"ha de" construction

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I'm having a little trouble with the "ha de ..." construction. I know that it means "one should ...", but I'm not quite familiar with the basis.

ÿl sabe lo que ha de hacer o decir para ayudar a los demas.

5616 views
updated ABR 1, 2010
posted by CalvoViejo

9 Answers

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ha de...
is the possibility that something will happen

updated SEP 4, 2008
posted by Marisa-Estrada
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Thank you, but they weren't mine. Those were cut and pasted from web sites.

Heidita said:

Quentin , your posts are really wise and knowledgeable. thank you for taking so much time.

>

updated SEP 2, 2008
posted by 0074b507
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It's in the song I learnt from spanishpod:
Uno de enero
dos de febrero etc a
.
.
.
siete de julio San Fermin
A Pamplona hemos de ir (con una bota, con una bota)
A Pamplona hemos de ir (con una bota y un calcetín)

It's quite annoying as I can't stop singing it.

updated SEP 2, 2008
posted by tad
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Quentin , your posts are really wise and knowledgeable. thank you for taking so much time.

updated SEP 2, 2008
posted by 00494d19
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The Mexican trio Belanova use the haber + de + infinitive construction repeatedly in the chorus of Por Ti:

Si mi vida ha de continuar
"If my life should continue"
Si otro día llegará
"If another day will come"
Si he de volver a comenzar
"If I should start all over again"
será por ti.
it will be for you.
[Captions 6-9, Belanova > Por ti]

As it turns out, the haber+de+infinitive construction, often found in music and literature, is deceivingly difficult to translate with precision. A native speaker staff member tells us that, in the context of this song, she gets the sense that ha de continuar expresses possibility ("if my life is to continue / is going to continue") more than obligation ("if my life must continue"). However, generally speaking, haber+de+infinitive, does convey a sense of obligation or necessity, though often milder than the tener+que+infinitive construction ( tiene que continuar -`"has to continue") or hay que+infinitive construction (hay que continuar -"has to / must continue").

For this reason, in the end, we chose to use "should" in our English translations as it is nicely ambigious, conveying a sense of possibility but also having the alternate meaning of mild obligation.

Note that haber+de+infinitive and hay [also from the verb haber] + que + infinitive are completely distinct, and used in distinct contexts. So, how should you decide de vs que? You see, hay que continuar, loosely translated as "one has to continue," would always express a generalization. Meanwhile, the first-, second- and third-person conjugations of haber -- that is, he, hemos, has, han, ha and han -- plus 'de' yields a more specific, though milder sense of obligation, or of possibility, as in our featured song.

updated SEP 2, 2008
posted by 0074b507
0
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Answer: Haber de followed by the infinitive usually means "to have to," "to be necessary," or "to be supposed to," kind of like tener que or haber que, but expressing a much weaker and often vague sense of obligation. Although the expression is used a lot in some areas, in other places you're more likely to come across it in literature (or song lyrics!).

Here are a few examples of its use:

'Ha de estudiar mañana. She needs to study tomorrow.
'He de estar a dieta. I need to be on a diet.
'¿Por qué habría de salir? Why should he leave?
In the first two examples, the sense of obligation could be less than the English translations suggest; in the third example, the usage suggests a tone of indignation.
Haber de also can express probability in much the same way that "have to" (or sometimes "must") in English can express probability rather than obligation:

'La solución al problema ha de ser difícil. The solution to the problem has to be difficult.
'Has de ser rica. You must be rich.

updated SEP 2, 2008
posted by 0074b507
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Idioms with Tener, Deber, and Haber

http://www.spanish-kit.net/grammar/121.html

updated SEP 2, 2008
posted by 0074b507
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Thanks, Lazarus. I knew you would come through for me.

updated SEP 1, 2008
posted by CalvoViejo
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Easy: It is a periphrasis like "to have to + inf." in English, but mostly restricted to literature and formal use. It is normally replaced by the periphrasis "tener que + inf":

Tengo que ir al banco (normal) = He de ir al banco (formal)

ÿl sabe lo que tiene que hacer o decir para ayudar a los demas. (normal)
ÿl sabe lo que ha de hacer o decir para ayudar a los demas. (formal)
(He knows what he has to do or say...)

updated SEP 1, 2008
posted by lazarus1907