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I put this in the google translate page:

the cat likes me
i like the cat

I get back the translation:

el gato me gusta
me gusta el gato

which doesn't look right at all, and sure enough it gets translated back into:

i like the cat
i like the cat 

So how do I say, "The cat likes me"? Is it wrong to use gustar for this?

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I would tend to use querer for this case (El gato me quiere), but that might be a slight change in meaning. It feels a little more natural to me, but I'm a native English speaker. – Eric Andres Apr 4 '14 at 22:55
My translation is: Le agrado al gato. – loki Apr 21 '14 at 16:07
up vote 3 down vote accepted

el gato me gusta

I like the cat.

me gusta el gato

I like the cat.

The translator is correct - both sentences mean the same thing.

The correct way to say "The cat likes me" would be this way:

Yo le gusto al gato

Al gato yo le gusto

Essentially, this would translate back into English as "I [am] liked by the cat" or "By the cat, I [am] liked [by it]."

Note: in the above sentence, the words in [brackets] are signified in Spanish by the word "le." Also, you can omit the "Yo" from both statements and it will still be correct as the conjugation of gustar and the present le both imply the identity of the person being liked being the speaker.

Using gustar is correct. You just have to be careful with how its used! Another (funny) example would be the following:

el gato sabe bueno

The cat is tasty. (lol!)

al gato le sabe bueno

It tastes good to the cat. (or more directly, "To the cat [it, in this case meaning whatever the cat is eating] tastes good.")

Hope this helps clear it up! I'm a native speaker and even I get confused by this at times!

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Your answer is correct! I just would like to add that when you say: " this would translate back into English as "I [am] liked by the cat" or "By the cat, I [am] liked [by it].", you are changing the form of the sentence from active to passive. The correct translation of 'Yo le gusto al gato', in my opinion, would be 'The cat likes me'. 'I am liked by the cat' would be the translation of a sentence not used in Spanish: 'Yo soy gustado por el gato'. Some authors call these verbs "Impersonales atípicos": gustar, agradar, etc. You may find more information here: – pHonta Apr 3 '14 at 22:44

Here are some correct choices:

  • Al gato le gusto yo

  • Yo le gusto al gato

  • Le gusto al gato (you can ommit the article "Yo" because there's no other article that can be used in this specific sentence)

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I will second Eric Andres's point in using "querer" with living creatures instead of "gustar."

At least in much of Latin America, using "gustar" with humans usually insinuates a physical/sexual attraction. With animals, even though it's (generally) certain that you're not saying that you find the cat sexually attractive, it might sound slightly off. Best to err on the side of certainty and use "caer bien."

"Caer bien [a alguien]" is closer in line with the way we use "like" in English when referring to another person, and can be used with an individual animal. Querer is a bit stronger, like a light version of "love." (The "Querer vs. Amar" discussion is another great topic, but not directly on topic in this thread.)

For this reason, "el gato me cae bien" or "me cae bien el gato" would sound more natural than gustar.

My background: I'm a native English speaker married to a native Spanish speaker. I have been fluent for 13 years, a certified healthcare interpreter for 5 years, and came to Stack Exchange to continue refining the fine details and nuances :)

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+1, definitely good to be aware of. Btw the last paragraph would probably be good to put in your profile. – Nathan Hughes Apr 10 '14 at 20:40

Le gusto al gato?

I could be wrong though since Spanish isn’t my native language.

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Le gusto al gato should be better – ederollora Apr 3 '14 at 22:50
Ouch! That was a really embarrassing mistake. Thanks for pointing out…just corrected it. :) – TheLearner Apr 4 '14 at 4:43

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