How to say ‘There is’ and ‘There are’ in Spanish: A Guide

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One of the first things you need to grasp when learning a new language is how to say there is or there are. It will enable you to express yourself in a variety of situations, and even ask important questions. In Spanish, the translation for this is hay.

Like most languages, there are several ways to use ‘there is’ in Spanish in everyday conversation.

In this post, we will go over all of the different uses for hay and teach you how to say there is and there are in Spanish correctly. All whilst learning some grammar along the way!

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Oh, by the way, this is me! My name is James, I’m a Spanish tutor and the author of most of the language material on this site.

When I was learning Spanish, I used LingoPie, an online language tool that lets you learn Spanish by watching TV. I highly recommend it! Please feel free to check out my LingoPie Review. 🙂

There is in Spanish: How to use hay

The word hay can be used in several ways, all with different meanings.

Below are some instances in which you may find yourself using the verb.

– To say there is or there are

– To express existence

– To show surprise, disbelief, or excitement

– As an interjection

– In idiomatic expressions

Examples of sentences along with the English meaning include:

🇪🇸 Hay un libro en la mesa.
There is a book on the table

🇪🇸 ¿Hay leche en su casa?
Is there milk in your house?

🇪🇸 No hay nadie en la casa
There is nobody in the house

Notice above that in order to say there is not in Spanish, you simply add a ‘no’ in front of hay in order to make it negative.

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There is and there are in the Spanish language: What’s the Difference?

Unlike with a lot of languages, such as English, for example, the word hay doesn’t change when expressing there is or there are.

See below for some examples of the use of hay in the Spanish language.

🇪🇸 Hay una playa en mi cuidad
🇺🇸 There is a beach in my city

🇪🇸 Hay unos bares y restaurantes en mi barrio
🇺🇸 There are some bars and restaurants in my neighborhood

As you can see, hay doesn’t change when expressing there is or there are in Spanish. This remains the same for both plural and singular sentences.

How to pronounce ‘hay’ in Spanish

The word “hay” is one of the most common Spanish words, yet learning the pronunciation can be a bit ambiguous.

The letter “h” is never pronounced in Spanish. When you hear a harsh ‘h’ sound in Spanish, it is actually a ‘j’ that you can hear.

When you see the word “hay” written down, you should pronounce it as though there is no ‘h’ to precede the word.

Perfect pronunciation

To achieve the most accurate pronunciation of hay, an important point to remember is that the pronunciation has a sound remarkably similar to the pronunciation of the word ‘eye’ in English.

A fun way to remember this could be through the use of the game eye spy. For example, we play eye spy to dictate what we see, and therefore what there is of something.

Practice for a few minutes playing eye spy with yourself, followed by the dictation of what you see in Spanish (if you can). You’ll have accurate pronunciation in no time!

How to use the phrase ‘hay que’

The phrase ‘hay que’ is used in Spanish typically to express the idea that it is necessary for something to be done.

For example, you might say:

🇪🇸 Hay que ir al supermercado
🇺🇸 We need to go to the supermarket

Below are some more examples of ‘hay que’ in spanish sentences:

🇪🇸 Hay que ir al mercado
🇺🇸 You have to go to the market

🇪🇸 Hay que comprar un nuevo libro
🇺🇸 We need to buy a new book

🇪🇸 ¿Qué hay que hacer?
🇺🇸 What needs to be done?

🇪🇸 Hay que lavar la ropa
🇺🇸 The laundry needs to be done

Hay que and Tener que

Whilst learning the use of this verb, it is important for it to be understood and differentiated from the use of tener que (+ infinitive).

The verb tener expresses more obligation or ‘having’ to do something, whereas the use of hay que is used more generally. For example;

🇪🇸 Tengo que ir al supermercado porque no hay nada en la casa
🇺🇸 I have to go to the supermarket because there is nothing at home

In this sentence, going to the supermarket is not something the speaker wants to do, but rather something they have to do because there is not enough food at home.

Whereas the use of hay que is a lot more casual and used more frequently. For example:

🇪🇸 Hay que caminar un poco más para llegar a la playa
🇺🇸 We have to walk a bit further to get to the beach

Here, it is necessary to walk a bit further to get to the beach, but it is not an obligation. The phrase hay que is used very frequently in Spanish and can be translated to mean ‘one must,’ or, ‘it is necessary…’

Using Haber with Estar

There are two different forms of Spanish verbs that both translate to the English verb “to be.” These Spanish verbs are “haber” and “estar.”

Hay is one of the conjugated forms of haber.

While both haber and estar have similar meanings in some contexts, there are some key differences between them.

What’s the difference between haber and estar?

In general, “haber” is used to indicate mere existence, while “estar” is used to talk about location.

Below are some examples of the use of hay to indicate existence:

🇪🇸 Hay un libro en la habitación
🇺🇸 There is a book in the room

🇪🇸 ¿Hay alguien aquí?
🇺🇸 Is there anyone here?

As you can see, these statements just state that someone or a book exists.

Whereas ‘estar’ is used to talk about location specifically, rather than state mere existence. We use the AR verb ‘estar’ to locate things/ people. For example :

🇪🇸 La mesa está en el centro de la habitación
🇺🇸 The table is in the center of the room

🇪🇸 ¿Dónde están mis llaves?
🇺🇸 Where are my keys?

🇪🇸 El libro está allí
🇺🇸 The book is there

Using Haber with Ser

Now we know that haber and estar are two completely different Spanish verbs with different uses. You can’t use them interchangeably! So, what about ser?

What’s the difference between haber and ser?

Ser is another verb meaning ‘to be.’ It can be used similarly to haber to indicate a form of existence in a sentence.

However, the key difference is that Haber (hay) is used in the third person in Spanish, and Ser is used in second and third person plural (e.g we and you).

Examples are as follows:

🇪🇸 Hay un gato en mi casa
🇺🇸 There is a cat in my house

🇪🇸 Somos estudiantes de español
🇺🇸 We are Spanish students

Further examples of using ser in Spanish to express existence in the second and third person plural are as follows:

🇪🇸 ¿Eres de México?
🇺🇸 Are you from Mexico?

🇪🇸 Ellos son de Argentina
🇺🇸 They are from Argentina

The use of ser is especially common when using numbers, for example; Somos siete (there are seven of us).

Spanish verbs can get confusing. But, with a little practice, you’ll see how it makes sense to use them in their separate contexts.

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‘There is’ in Spanish: Other Spanish Phrases which use hay

Now that you’re getting more familiar with when and when not to use hay, below is a list of some useful phrases for you to practice and their English translation.

Go ahead and have a practice – remembering the pronunciation!

Examples of Spanish phrases using hay include :

🇪🇸 Hay una fiesta esta noche
🇺🇸 There is a party tonight

🇪🇸 No hay nadie en casa
🇺🇸 There is nobody home

🇪🇸 ¿Hay alguien aquí que hable inglés?
🇺🇸 Is there anyone here who speaks English?

Examples of Spanish phrases that use hay que include :

🇪🇸 Hay que estudiar si quieres aprobar el examen
🇺🇸 You have to study if you want to pass the exam

🇪🇸 Hay que + hacer algo
🇺🇸 Something needs to be done

🇪🇸 No hay de que preocuparse
🇺🇸 There’s nothing to worry about

Knowing how to use hay and hay que correctly is important when mastering the language.

Therefore, it’s important to practice them with fixed phrases like the above in the right context.

Other useful Spanish words

Now that you’ve got to grips with the different contextual uses and dynamic features of these verbs in Spanish, here are some other key short phrases with the English translation that will come in useful when you start to use the Spanish language in everyday conversation.

🇪🇸 ¿Cómo estás?
🇺🇸 How are you?

🇪🇸 ¿Cómo te llamas?
🇺🇸 What’s your name?

🇪🇸 ¿De dónde eres?
🇺🇸 Where are you from?

🇪🇸 ¿Hablas inglés?
🇺🇸 Do you speak English?

🇪🇸 No entiendo
🇺🇸 I don’t understand

🇪🇸 Habla más despacio, por favor
🇺🇸 Speak more slowly, please

🇪🇸 ¿Cuánto cuesta?
🇺🇸 How much does it cost?

🇪🇸 ¿Dónde está el baño?
🇺🇸 Where is the bathroom?

🇪🇸 Tengo una pregunta
🇺🇸 I have a question

🇪🇸 ¿Puedes decirme dónde está?
🇺🇸 Can you tell me where it is?

Moving to a Spanish-speaking community can be hard, especially if you don’t speak the language and need to interact with the locals.

Remembering the above phrases will help with your day-to-day life as you’re starting out in a Spanish-speaking community.

Useful ways to learn Spanish words

Finding strategies that work for you when learning Spanish is important because the language can be difficult to grasp at first. The first step for any beginner would be to start attending Spanish lessons – either in person or online.

However, if a language course on rosetta stone isn’t particularly within your price range, or you don’t have the time to commit to a course, luckily, due to the existence of the internet – you already have access to a powerful tool readily available to help you begin learning, and it can be found inside your smartphone.

Free and easy ways to start learning Spanish include:

– Listening to Spanish audiobooks, preferably educational and centered around learning Spanish. Once you get more comfortable, you can move on to Spanish novels.

– Listening to Spanish music on Spotify.

– Reading Spanish books. This is particularly helpful for grasping grammar and spelling. Feel free to check out our Books for Spanish Learners article.

– Watching Spanish TV Programmes and films on Netflix. This is both enjoyable and a great way to explore dynamic features of the Spanish language, such as different accents!

– Finding an Intercambio language exchange close to you. These are particularly popular as they usually take place in a very laid-back setting such as a bar, and you get to meet lots of interesting new people.

– Finding a Spanish-speaking pen pal through social media.

– Keeping a Spanish dictionary close or using an online Spanish translator are also useful tools to bear in mind as you’re starting out learning a new language, to aid your practices.

A useful tip to remember

A useful tip to remember throughout your learning is that many English words and Spanish words have crossovers in Latin heritage.

You’ll see this with English words ending in ‘ation.’ English words ending in ‘ation’ sound remarkably similar to their Spanish translation.

For example, reservation, reservación, communication, comunicación.

Summing up: How to say there is in Spanish

We have covered a lot in this article. Let’s look at some of the key points:

– In order to say there is and there are in Spanish, you can use the word hay from the Spanish verb haber.

– This remains the same for both plural and singular sentences.

– If you want to be more specific about location, you can use estar instead of hay.

– If you want to emphasize that something exists, similarly to haber, you can use ser. Ser is most often used when stating quantities.

Now you know how to say there is and there are in Spanish, you can start using the tips mentioned earlier to begin your learning of the Spanish language!

Start with using basic words in a simple sentence before you feel comfortable using longer phrases in your daily conversations and everyday life as you’re building confidence. Such communications, big or small, make all the difference.

Once you’re confident with the use of there is and there are, along with the different contextual verb selections discussed, you can go on to practice other tenses, such as past and future. Soon enough, you’ll be speaking and living la vida like a native in no time!

 

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