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

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?


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?


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