Difference between hay and está

There is often confusion for English speakers when using hay and está.  Let's see the difference:

Hay

Hay means "There is/there are". We use hay when we are talking or asking about the existence of something/someone.

Generally the order can present itself in two ways, here's the first:

Verb (Hay) + indefinite article (un/una) + noun + [somewhere]

For example:

Hay una farmacia en mi barrio.
There is a chemist in my neighbourhood.

Here's the second way:

[Somewhere] + verb (hay) + indefinite article (un/una) + noun 

For example:

En mi barrio hay una farmacia.
In my neighbourhood there is a chemist.

You can use the plural definite articles unos/unas but very often we omit them as they are not necessary:

Hay (unos) bares en la plaza del pueblo.
There are (some) bars in the village square.

Estar

"Está" means "It is" and "están" means "They are". We use estar to locate things/people somewhere.

The general order of the sentences with estar is:

 Definite article (el, la, los, las) +noun + verb (está/están) + somewhere 

For example:

El parque está en la parte norte de la ciudad.
The park is in the north part of the city.

La iglesia está al lado del colegio.
The church is next to the school.

El bar de Miguel está en la esquina.
Miguel's bar is on the corner.

Have a look at how we would use both hay and está in a simple conversation:

¿Hay un parque por aquí?
Is there a park over here?

Sí, hay un parque cerca.
Yes, there is a park nearby.

Someone is asking about the existence of a park nearby. Notice how after hay we use the indefinite article "un" (the same way in English the indefinite article "a" is used)

Once the speaker knows there is one, he/she asks where it is:

¿Dónde está el parque?
Where is the park?

El parque está allí a la derecha.
The park is there on the right.

Notice how now they are using "está" to locate it. Now they don't use the indefinite article "un/una" but the definite article "el/la" (the same way in English "the" is used)

See also:

Video

You can also watch this video with Gordon and Cynthia from Lightspeed Spanish explaining how hay and está works.

 

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Sí, hay un parque cerca.
Yes, there is a park nearby.


En mi barrio hay una farmacia.
In my neighbourhood there is a chemist.


El bar de Miguel está en la esquina.
Miguel's bar is on the corner.


¿Hay un parque por aquí?
Is there a park over here?


Hay una farmacia en mi barrio.
There is a chemist in my neighbourhood.


Hay (unos) bares en la plaza del pueblo.
There are (some) bars in the village square.


El parque está en la parte norte de la ciudad.
The park is in the north part of the city.


El parque está allí a la derecha.
The park is there on the right.


La iglesia está al lado del colegio.
The church is next to the school.


¿Dónde está el parque?
Where is the park?


¿Hay algún cine por aquí?
Is there any cinema round here?


Q&A Forum 1 question, 6 answers

JohanC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

¿Dónde ________ una floristería, pro favor? To this question you have given the answer as “hay”. I have studied the lesson again but can’t agree.

The question does not enquire about the existence of a florist but the location. Therefore according to the lesson explanation the answer should be “Donde está”.  Please point me to the part of the lesson I have not understood. 

Asked 7 months ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Johan,

In the lesson we say that the article used after "hay" is always the indefinite article "un/una/unos/unas", while with "está" we use "el/la/los/las".

See the difference between these two sentences:

1. ¿Hay una farmacia cerca? -Sí, hay una farmacia muy cerca. (Is there a chemist around here? -Yes, there is a chemist near here.) (asking about the existence of a chemist). 

Once they say there is one very close, then you want to locate it, so you ask:

2. ¿Y dónde está la farmacia? -Está ahí, al lado de la panadería. (And where is the chemist? - It is there, next to the bakers.) (this is about its location)

I hope this helps.

Saludos

Inma

JohanC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I’m sorry but you have not addressed my point. I agree that if you enquire about the existence of the farmacia the “hay” is the verb. But the lesson makes it clear that once you enquire about the location of a farmacia the “está” is the verb.  The very start of the question “donde” indicates that I know there are farmacias in the location.  All I now want to know is the existence of one of these. 

InmaKwiziq team member

Well, in this specific question with dónde the speaker doesn't really know of the existence (or not) of a chemist. He is asking "Where is there a chemist?", not "Where is the chemist?" Introducing the question with dónde doesn't always imply that the speaker knows of the existence of whatever he/she is enquiring, if you know what I mean.

Hope this is clearer now.

Inma

MichaelA1Kwiziq community member

I think it boils down to this:  if you are talking about "a" thing (using the indefinite article), then you use Hay.  If you are talking about "the" thing, then you use está.  In all of the examples in the lesson, every time the indefinite articles are used, they use Hay.  

MichaelA1Kwiziq community member

I think this is a subtle and "trick" sentence.  As a non-native speaker of Spanish, I am used to seeing "donde" as the beginning of a question about "location."  I would have expected this question to be phrased: "Hay una floristeria por aqui, por favor?"

TanA0Kwiziq community member

Johan, I understand your question and I want to know the answer as you do. However, it seems like no one has addressed straight to the point for you.

Is it really difficult to understand and give the correct response to him? Anyone else, please???

¿Dónde ________ una floristería, pro favor? To this question you have given the answer as “hay”. I have studied the lesson again but can’t agree.

The question does not enquire about the existence of a florist but the location. Therefore according to the lesson explanation the answer should be “Donde está”.  Please point me to the part of the lesson I have not understood. 

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