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Quick answer
"Existir" is an intransitive verb which is often translated as "to exist", and "hay" is an impersonal verb which is often translated as "there is". Learn more about the difference between "existir" and "hay" below.
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
1. (to be real)
a. to exist
Mi hermanito todavía cree que existe el Coco.My little brother still believes the Boogeyman exists.
2. (to be found)
a. to be
Existen varios volcanes activos en Hawaii.There are several active volcanoes in Hawaii.
b. to exist
No existe suficiente apoyo para que el movimiento continúe.Not enough support exists for the movement to continue.
3. (to be alive)
a. to live
Los tardígrados pueden existir hasta en el espacio profundo.Tardigrades can live even in deep space.
b. to exist
El tigre de Tasmania ya no existe.The Tasmanian tiger no longer exists.
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An impersonal verb is a verb with no apparent subject (e.g. Llueve en España.).
1. (to exist)
a. there is (singular)
Hay un hombre mirándote.There is a man looking at you.
b. there are (plural)
¿Hay pimientos en la nevera?Are there any peppers in the fridge?
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