HAY and HAY QUE: Spanish verbs (A2)

HAY and HAY QUE are two very different ways to use the impersonal form of the verb HABER (to have). Let’s see how to use them and their differences.

HAY and HAY QUE impersonal verb HABER
It is necessary to practice a lot to play well the violin.
HAY and HAY QUE impersonal form HABER
There is not any enemy ship.

HAY and HAY QUE impersonal HABER
There is a mouse in my house!

1. HAY is a very common Spanish expression. It is equivalent to the English expression there is or there are. It is used mainly to express the existence of something:

Hay una botella de vino en la mesa (There’s a bottle of wine on the table).

Hay muchas cosas que hacer (There’s a lot to do -There are lots of things to do).

 Note that you must ALWAYS use the singular form (never the plural), no matter how many things there are:

Hay un ratón (there is a mouse).

Hay dos ratones (there are two mice).

2. As we mentioned, HAY is coming from HABER and it is always used impersonally, but can be used in other tenses in an impersonal way too:  hubo/había (there was/were) ha habido (there has been), habrá (there will be) and so on.

Cuando llegué al banco, había una gran cola (When I arrived at the bank,  there was a long queue).

¿Sabes si habrá mucha gente en la fiesta? (Do you know if there will be a lot people at the party).

3. HAY can never be used along with a determinate article (el, la, los, las) or a possessive (mi, tu, su, nuestro…). In these cases, we will use ESTAR.

Hay un libro en la mesa (there is a book on the table).

Mi libro está en la mesa (My book is on the table).

Be careful! Sometimes is very easy to mistake these two verbs (learn more about).

4.  On the other hand, HAY QUE + INFINITIVE is another impersonal construction used to talk about actions that need to be taken:

Hay que trabajar más (It is necessary to work harder).

Hay que ser puntual (It is necessary to be on time).

Hubo que llamar a la policía (It was necessary to call the police).

5. Notice that not all the impersonal expressions in Spanish are translated into English in the same way or using an impersonal expression (learn more impersonal expressions in Spanish).


I hope you can understand better how HAY and HAY QUE work.  Now, just click on the link to:

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