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Published on: Grammar Bites

Differences between “hay” and “estar”

We use the verb haber to talk about the existence of something or someone. In the present tense this usage – known as impersonal se– only has one conjugation: hay.

  • a) ¿Qué me recomiendas para leer? b) Hay un cuento precioso de Borges que te encantará. a) What do you recommend to read? b) There is beautiful short story by Borges that you will love.
  • a) ¿Hay un supermercado por aquí? b) Sí, hay uno en la esquina. a) Is there a supermaket around here? b) Yes, there is one on the corner.
  • ¿Hay muchos niños en la fiesta? Are there many kids at the party?

 

On the other hand, we use the verb estar to locate or place something or someone in space. The verb estar can be conjugated both in singular or plural in all persons.

  • a) ¿Y mi vestido? b) Tu vestido está en el armario. a) And my dress? b) Your dress is in the closet.
  •  Todas los niños están en el jardín. All the kids are in the garden.
  • a) ¿Dónde está el edificio Empire State? b) Está en Nueva York. a) Where is the Empire State Building? b) It’s in New York.
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