The Verb ‘Haber’ in Spanish


The verb 'haber' is funny in that it has two meanings. It can be used as an auxiliary verb meaning 'to have'; 'el ha ido' (he has gone). It is also an impersonal verb meaning 'to be' and is used in a specific way. In this blog we will look at 'haber' as an impersonal verb.

'Hay' is the present tense impersonal form of 'haber' and can be followed by a singular or plural noun. It is very common in the Spanish language and is used to acknowledge the existence of one or many things.

In English 'hay' can be translated as:

- There is
- There are

Hay una mosca en mi sopa. (There is a fly in my soup.)
Hay cincuenta y dos naipes en una baraja. (There are fifty two cards in a deck.)  


It can also be used as a question:

- Is there?
- Are there?

¿Hay un médico en la casa? (Is there a doctor in the house?)
¿Cuántos peces hay en el oceáno? (How many fish are there in the ocean?)


It can also be used to answer questions:

¿Hay leche en el refrigerador? (Is there milk in the fridge?)

¡Si hay! (There is!)
¡No hay! (There is not!)


Here are the conjugations of the impersonal verb haber in other tenses and moods:

Pretérito - Hubo (There was)
Imperfect - Había (There was)
Future - Habrá (There will be)
Conditional - Habría (There would be)
Present perfect - Ha habido (There have been)
Subjunctive - Que haya - (That there is)


The impersonal form of 'haber' is usually the easier of the two and is first taught to students learning Spanish!

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