Apparently, "eu" is the subject in "eu gosto (de isso)" while "me" is the object in "me gusta (algo)". Why such a difference between two languages? What's the historical evolution of this expression?

  • Not an answer, but a similar alteration has arisen in English, more ambiguously. The verb please originally had the frame it pleases me, and is still used in that way. But it also has the second frame I please, though this is used in restricted contexts: never with an object, and usually only with a conditional or in an unspecified way; if I please, and (I can) do what I please.
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 8, 2015 at 0:46
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    This question is very similar to the oneI answered here spanish.stackexchange.com/questions/15315/… (I'll leave it to others to decide whether it is different enough to remain open) Nov 16, 2015 at 5:02
  • @guifa Yes actually I asked this question first and then when there was no reply I asked again in Spanish SE, changing the format later as per the request of one commenter. Maybe you could just give the same answer here or maybe the community could decide to close the question.
    – xji
    Nov 16, 2015 at 5:10
  • Very analogous, although within one language: sh:trebati en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Nov 18, 2015 at 18:29

1 Answer 1


Superficially subject and object markings do not always correlate with semantic "subject" and "object".

For example in English:

I won the election.

It's clearly everybody else (unless you too went to polls) who made you that way. So the grammatic subject "I" really stands for some experiencer/object first person.

In your question example, one of the lang's is more "transparent" as for this.

By the way, Icelandic has crazy constructions that mix both of these, like "me.OBJ like.SG. horses.PL" or so.

  • I think this is on the right track, although I just want to point out that I think there's an alternative reading of "I won the X" where I was particularly crucial for winning the X. For example, if I was the MVP of a game. In this case, I would have a particularly important, agentive causal role in the winning. Feb 17, 2016 at 2:40
  • I fully agree with you. The odd reading (where winning is somewhat passive) (in my answer) is nice to show the independence of grammatic and semantic subject.
    – purlupar
    Apr 27, 2016 at 12:30

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