HAY, not HI: the Spanish for "there is"
Last week we spoke about the two Spanish verbs that have divided the tasks fulfilled by to be. In this article, we are going to consider another use of the English verb – the structure “there is/there are” and its Spanish equivalent.
The Verb HAY
In English, the structure “there is/there are” is used to state that something is present, located, or going on somewhere. In Spanish, this function is performed neither by SER, nor by ESTAR. The verb HABER has assumed this responsibility, namely, its impersonal form HAY.
Statements with HAY
There is no special form for the singular of the plural – the verb form HAY is conveniently used in both situations. There is not much theory on the subject, so let’s consider more examples this time.
- Hay muchos países en el mundo.
There are many countries in the world.
- Pero hay solo una capital en cada país.
But there is only one capital in each country.
- Hay ocho lápices en mi estuche.
There are eight pencils in my pencil case.
- Hay un sacapuntas y un bolígrafo también.
There is a pencil sharpener and a pen, too.
- Hay siete días en una semana.
There are seven days in a week.
- Hay un sol para todos.
There is one sun for everyone.
Questions with HAY
If you want to ask if there is something in a certain place, use the very same verb, only place a question mark at the beginning and the end of your question. Or, if you are speaking, rely on intonation to show that it is a question rather than a statement! Easy!
- ¿Hay algunos lápices en tu estuche?
Are there any pencils in your pencil case?
- ¿Hay algunos libros buenos que puedes recomendarme?
Are there any good books you can recommend me?
Let’s consider more complex examples (but they all are pretty easy as well):
- ¿Hay muchos huevos en la nevera?
Are there many eggs in the fridge?
- ¿Hay alguna plaza libre para nosotros?
Is there any place for us?
- ¿Hay dos sitios o tres?
Are there two or three seats?
- ¿Cuántos días hay en una semana?
How many days are there in a week?
To answer the questions with HAY, you should also use HAY! What can be easier?
- ¿Hay alguna plaza libre para nosotros? – Sí. Sí hay tres sitios libros.
Is there any place for us? – Yes, there are three vacant seats.
- ¿Hay muchos huevos en la nevera? – No. No hay ninguno.
Are there many eggs in the fridge? – No, there are none.
There is one more use of the verb form:
HAY que + the infinitive form of the verb.
You can use it when there is a need to do something. The meaning of the structure is very similar to that of the English modal verb “must”, only it is impersonal (one must...). E.g.:
- Hay que practicar español cada día.
One must practice Spanish every day.
- Hay que hidratar antes, durante y después del ejercicio.
It is necessary to hydrate before, during, and after exercises.
This bit of Spanish grammar is not too complicated, but rules are rules and there is a quiz to test your knowledge with! Ready to start?