Unit 3.1

Differences between Hay and Estar

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Introduction

Hay and Estar are verbs that have a similar meaning but are used in different contexts.

Hay is the impersonal form of the verb haber used as the 3rd person singular to talk about something undefined and/or unknown.

The verb estar is an irregular verb used to identify things and places in a transitory state.

Form

The verbs haber (hay) and estar are used in connection with different types of word classes and determiners.

Hay

The verbal form hay is used with:

The verbal form hay is not used with:

Estar

The verb estar is used:

The following table sets out the conjugation of the verb estar in comparison with the single form of the verb haber:

Persona Estar Haber
Yo estoy
estás
Él/Ella/Usted está hay
Nosotros/-as estamos
Vosotros/-as estáis
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes están

Example

Hay:

  • Aquí hay una talla de pantalón más grande;
  • Hay mucha gente en esa calle;
  • También hay cuatro gatos allí;
  • Hay muchas arañas a la derecha de la lámpara;
  • ¿Cuántos países hay al norte?

Estar:

  • La playa está siempre llena de gente;
  • La cena hace una hora que está lista;
  • Lo que hacen los doctores está bien;
  • Esos nunca están tristes;
  • Aquellas están en Madrid.

Use

The use of the verbs haber (hay) y estar corresponds to different contexts.

  • the impersonal form hay is used to:
    • talk about the existence or location of people, animals, objects, and places;
    • talk about something undefined and unknown;
    • to ask about something in general that we do not know if it exists.
  • the verb estar is used to:
    • to express a temporary activity;
    • to speak of a transitory state of mind and physique;
    • to talk of the result of an action ;
    • without an adjective when we want to locate and express where someone is (spatial location).

 

Summary

In Spanish, hay and estar are verbs that have a similar meaning but different uses.

For example:

— «Hay un libro encima de la mesa.» = To indicate the presence of something.
— «El libro está en la mesa.» = To locate something in space;

Check the contents of the {Form} section. Then move on to the {Example} section, which shows you the usage in context.

Exercises


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Español (original) | français | Italiano | Polskie

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