costar - Les cuesta cuidar

Cesc's Magic Hat

New Member
English, UK
I came into some difficulty with this expression.

Costar means 'to cost' but it also means struggle or 'be difficult'.

In the following expressions:

They struggle to look after ten kids = Les cuesta cuidar de diez niños.

They struggle with 10 kids = les cuestan diez niños

I was told by my Spanish friend that the above translations are incorrect and they give the meaning of 'cost' i.e. money in this context.

Is my problem because I'm thinking in English here, I want to translate 'to struggle with' or 'struggle + to + infinitive'?

Many thanks.
 
  • jsvillar

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    I've just checked RAE and they don't include that definition!

    There are two uses of costar. The first one is to cost, either literall or figurately. All definitions in RAE refer to this meaning.
    The second use is, as you say, to struggle + to + infinitive. I think the verb has to be always in singular and followed by an infinitive. Maybe, if there is no infinitive it can be in plural, but I'm not sure.

    Nos cuesta perder.:tick:
    Nos cuesta soportarlo.:tick:
    Nos cuesta cuando perdemos.:confused:(I think it is correct but only because there is an implicit 'soportarlo' in there)

    The infinitive can be ommitted:
    ¿Qué tal llevas los estudios?
    Me cuesta mucho (aprobarlos):tick:
    Me cuestan mucho :confused:
     

    fenixpollo

    moderator
    American English
    They struggle to look after ten kids = Les cuesta cuidar de diez niños. :tick:
    They struggle with 10 kids = les cuestan diez niños :cross:

    The second one means that the price is 10 kids. As jsvillar says, for costar to have a figurative meaning, you need an infinitive in this construction.

    "Costar" can also be used in constructions like "costar trabajo" or "costar esfuerzo". The verb retains its meaning, but the addition of the concepts of "esfuerzo" or "trabajo" relates to the idea of "effort" and thereby implies "struggle". But this is not the direct meaning of "costar". In my opinion, the omission of "esfuerzo" or "trabajo" in jsvillar's examples are a mental shortcut, and they are implied and/or missing.
     
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