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Using había to say there was / there were

In Spanish we use había to say there was or there were. Read and listen to these examples:

Había un perro en el parque.
There was a dog in the park.

Había dos perros en el parque.
There were two dogs in the park.

Había un niño en la clase.
There was a child in the classroom.

Había demasiados niños.
There were too many kids.

Había una buena oferta para ir a Tenerife.
There was a good offer to go to Tenerife.

Había descuentos para estudiantes.
There were discounts for students.

In Spanish, you use había when it is followed by one thing/person or many things/people, unlike in English!
GRAMMAR: Había is an impersonal form that comes from the third person of the verb haber in El Pretérito Imperfecto. It literally means it had.

See also Using hubo = there was / there were (simple past)

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Había demasiados niños.
There were too many kids.


Había una buena oferta para ir a Tenerife.
There was a good offer to go to Tenerife.


Había descuentos para estudiantes.
There were discounts for students.


Había un perro en el parque.
There was a dog in the park.


Había un niño en la clase.
There was a child in the classroom.


Había dos perros en el parque.
There were two dogs in the park.


Q&A

Steve

Kwiziq community member

6 April 2018

3 replies

hubo/había with a set time

“Maria told us there was a meeting at 4”

hubo is incorrect here, but I thought with a set time it became ‘hubo’? What am I missing? 

Silvia

Kwiziq language super star

6 April 2018

6/04/18

¡Hola Steve!


We are sorry about this mistake, it is true that we should use the indefinido instead of the imperfecto in this case with a set time. We have just changed that question to avoid more problems in the future. Thank you for your contribution! Silvia.

Steve

Kwiziq community member

6 April 2018

6/04/18

Perfect! I didn't report it as an error as I assumed I was wrong somehow :) thanks!

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

7 April 2018

7/04/18

Hi Steve, as Silvia said, that sentence was changed to avoid confusion, as this is a more general lesson about "había". However bear in mind that when you do more advance lessons you may find "habia" combined with time phrases that seem more appropriate with the preterite. Those are also correct; they will be of a more specific usage though. We will have more lessons about usage soon.


Saludos,


Inma

Mieke

Kwiziq community member

2 December 2017

2 replies

Where can I learn more about when to use Había and when to use Hubo?

I know había is imperfecto and hubo is pretérito, but in this context it seems not always applicable. Is there a clear distinction?

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

2 December 2017

2/12/17

Hola Mieke,
We are creating more lessons about specific uses at the moment. As you know both "Había" and "Hubo" translate as "There was/were", however the first will be used to express continuity in the past while with the latter there is no sense of continuity.
You can have a look here to learn a bit more about the use of the imperfect: https://spanish.kwiziq.com/my-languages/spanish/view/5111
and here: https://spanish.kwiziq.com/my-languages/spanish/glossary/45
Gracias,
Inma

William

Kwiziq community member

7 December 2017

7/12/17

Hi Mieke

I have always found lots of information on youtube. Suggest google "haber Spanish youtube", you are sure to find a video that suits your style of learning
Let me take a look at that...