The difference between hay y ahí

The difference between hay y ahí



I have a small question.

I would just like to know the difference between Hay and Ahí, and when to use either in a sentence. They both mean "There", no?

¡Gracias mis amigos!

updated MAR 2, 2010
posted by TheSilentHero

3 Answers


Hay means "there is" or "there are" while ahí means there as in "over there". Hay muchas cosas ahí. There are many things there.

updated MAR 2, 2010
posted by jeezzle
Thanks. - TheSilentHero, MAR 1, 2010

Hay is a special form of haber and literally means "It has." Hay is used in place of English's "there is / are" (which has nothing to do with location but is a general way to state somethings exists). Ahí is all about location.

There are flowers there => It has flowers there => Hay flores ahí.

Just to make another example, Germans use "Es gibt" (It gives, literally) in the same way we would use "there is / are." (In German, es is a pronoun, not a verb)

There are flowers there => It gives flowers there => Es gibt blumen da


Again, these are just ways various languages have developed to state, in more conversational tones, that something exists. Location need not be implied at all...

There are flowers there = Flowers exist there (only the second "there" indicates location)

There are flowers that need little water = Flowers that need little water exist

Hay flores ahí = Existen flores ahí (Only ahí indicates location)

Hay flores que necesitan poco agua = Existen flores que necesitan poco agua


Hay can also be in preterite, subjunctive, conditional and the like to mean things such as "there were", "there would be", etc. For these other tenses, I believe you just use the 3rd person singular of haber in the appropriate tense.

(preterite) There were flowers there, but not now. => It had flowers there, but not now => Hubo flores ahí, pero ahora no.

(conditional) There would still be flowers there, but Pedro removed them => It would still have flowers there, but Pedro removed them => Ya habría flores ahí, pero Pedro las sacó.

(subjunctive) I hope there are flowers there => I hope it has flowers there => Espero que haya flores ahí.

(imperfect) There was a party going on when it happened => It was having a party when it happened => Había una fiesta cuando sucedió.

(These last four examples may be really bad Spanish.)

I don't believe hay can be used in the progressive tenses, however. One could not say, for example, estaba habiendo or está habiendo. I believe one would use imperfect (había) and simple present (hay) respectively.

updated MAR 2, 2010
edited by webdunce
posted by webdunce
Thanks - TheSilentHero, MAR 2, 2010

Great answer by Jeezzle smile I just had to say....you always have the coolest profile pics Silent Hero!

updated MAR 2, 2010
posted by Nicole-B
Thanks! - TheSilentHero, MAR 2, 2010
SpanishDict is the world's most popular Spanish-English dictionary, translation, and learning website.