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I am very much a beginner when it comes to learning Spanish. I have turned my language settings for Facebook from English to Spanish so that I see the language regularly and I have noticed that the statement "You and 5 others liked this" is translated as

A ti y 5 otras personas más le gusta esto.

So far I have been taught that "a" usually means "to" and I know that "ti" means "you" so why is the "a" in this sentence?

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In English, you like something. You is the subject, and something is the object.

However, in Spanish, the "thing being liked" is the subject and therefore the verb "gustar" is conjugated according to the thing being liked, pretty much like the verb "belong" in English:

  • This belongs to me

In Spanish, the rationale is roughly (although incorrect):

  • Esto gusta a mí -> Esto me gusta
  • Ellas gustan a mí -> Ellas me gustan

The full correct expression is:

Gustar algo a alguien

  • A mí me gusta algo
  • A ti te gusta algo / A usted le gusta algo
  • A él/ella le gusta algo
  • A nosotros/nosotras nos gusta algo
  • A vosotros/vosotras os gusta algo / A ustedes les gusta algo
  • A ellos/ellas les gusta algo

It happens in German too that the thing being liked is the subject and the one who likes it is the (indirect) object (Mir = to me, dativ):

  • Das gefällt mir = Mir gefällt das

Notice that "a mí = me", "a ti = te", etc... Yes, they are completely redundant, but that's how the expression is, and "a mi, a ti, etc..." are generally omitted.

  • Me gusta algo
  • Etc...

Be careful with the Facebook sentence, though. It's incorrect probably because the one in charge of the translation algorithm didn't know proper Spanish and faced exactly the same problem you are describing.

In Spanish, the correct sentence would be:

You and 5 others like that -> A ti y a 5 personas más os/les gusta esto (os/les depending on regional differences for the plural of "tú").

Please also note that "ti" is never, ever used without a preposition before. It's always "A ti", "por ti", "de ti", etc...

  • 1
    Adding another way to say the last part: "A ti y a 5 personas más les gusta esto" – Dante Oct 15 '12 at 20:16
  • It makes sense apparently, but it's incorrect, because "a ti y a 5 personas más" goes altogether and cannot be separated. "A usted y a 5 personas más les gusta esto" would be another option, but "A ti y a 5 personas más les gusta esto" is incorrect. – user1025 Oct 15 '12 at 20:21
  • @Pablo: I am sorry but you are incorrect, "A ti y a 5 personas más les gusta esto" is perfectly correct and valid. – Sergio Romero Oct 15 '12 at 20:34
  • Yes, I agree with @SergioRomero, "A ti y a 5 personas más les gusta esto" has no grammatical mistakes. – Dante Oct 15 '12 at 20:40
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    @Pablo: Just remember that Spain is not the only country in which Spanish is spoken and in quite a few "vosotros" does not exist anymore but "ustedes" is used and "A ti y a 5 más" could be replaced by "ustedes" which would give "A ustedes les gusta esto". If fact in my country, as well as others, "Tú y unos amigos se fueron de vacaciones" WOULD BE the form used. – Sergio Romero Oct 15 '12 at 20:46
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Spanish does not have a verb that is a direct translation of "like" in common usage. "Gustar" is more accurately translated as "please" or "is pleasing": "This pleased you and five others". Also note that "ti" is the objective second-person pronoun. In English, we use the same word, "you", for both subjective and objective second-person, but in Spanish they are, respectively, "tú" and "ti". "You" is actually in many ways more analogous to "usted", with the English versions of "tú" and "ti" being cognates of "thou" and "thee", which have fallen out of favor; note that, like "you", "usted" is ambiguous as to whether it's a subject or object. So "A ti y 5 otras personas más le gusta esto." can be translated as "To thee, and five other persons more, is pleasing this".

Adding to this is that Facebook has co-opted the verb "like" to mean not "is pleased by", but "pressed the 'like' button"; this creates such formulations as "Like us on Facebook", where it would be unidiomatic to use the traditional meaning of "like" in the imperative. Arguably, it would make more sense for Facebook to find some other verb in Spanish, such as "aprobar", and then say "Han aprobado tú y cinco otras más esto" ("personas" seems unnecessary to me, but that might just be due to it being frequently omitted in English). If one wants to be nitpicky, whether it should be "esto" or "esta" would depend on what is being "liked".

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This is because of a rather unusual construction involving "gusto," a "passive" verb.

A rough translation of "gusto" is something like "is likeable." There is no exactly equivalent translation in English.

Then a rough translation of "A ti y 5 otras personas más le gusta esto." is "To you and five others, it is likeable."

The requirement of "a (ti)" comes from the "to you" part.

Esto es a causa de aa construccion usando "gusto" un verbo "passivo."

Una traduccion crudo de "gusto" es mas o menos "is likeable." No hay ninguna traduccion equivalenta en ingles"

Entonces es una traduccion crudo de "A ti y 5 otras personas más le gusta esto," "To you and five others, it is likeable."

El requiremiento de "a (ti)" viene de la parte "to you."

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