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

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

Hubo una tormenta muy fuerte.
There was a big storm.

Hubo muchos problemas con los turistas.
There were many problems with the tourists.

Hubo muchas personas en la manifestación.
There were many people at the demonstration.

Hubo una fiesta en casa.
There was a party at home.

Hubo poca comida en la boda.
There was very little food at the wedding.

Hubo algunas jóvenes en la oficina.
There were some young people in the office.


In Spanish, you use hubo whether it is followed by one item or many, unlike in English!

GRAMMAR: Both Hay and Hubo are impersonal forms that come from the third person of the verb haber. Hubo is in El Pretérito Indefinido, literally meaning, it had.

 

Haber belongs to a group of verbs that all have an irregular stem in El Pretérito Indefinido but share the same set of endings. To learn more about this have a look at Irregulares en Indefinido/mismas terminaciones.

See also Using había to say there was / there were

Examples and resources

Hubo muchos problemas con los turistas.
There were many problems with the tourists.


Hubo muchas personas en la manifestación.
There were many people at the demonstration.


Hubo algunas jóvenes en la oficina.
There were some young people in the office.


Hubo una fiesta en casa.
There was a party at home.


Hubo una tormenta muy fuerte.
There was a big storm.


Hubo poca comida en la boda.
There was very little food at the wedding.


Q&A

Catriona

Kwiziq community member

31 December 2017

3 replies

Distinguishing between hubo and había

There is no explanation either in hubo or había as to how to decide when to use which one. The examples given could almost be interchangeable, at least to my novice eye. (Other than that, this program is absolutely amazing! Hats off to everyone involved!)

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

31 December 2017

31/12/17

Hola Catriona
These two lessons about Había and Hubo are focused on the "form" more than specific uses, that's why we have used quite neutral sentences. As a general rule we would use "había" (not hubo) when we are describing a scene in the past or for a repeated action in the past, whereas we will use "hubo" (not había) for more punctual actions also in the past. You will soon have some more lessons about specific uses for the imperfect and preterite tenses.
Thanks for your lovely comments : ))

Catriona

Kwiziq community member

2 January 2018

2/01/18

Just ran into this again, and got it wrong again, even after your explanation. I put hubo instead of hacía for "There was a meeting at four." One of the examples for hubo is "There were many people at the demonstration." I honestly cannot see the difference between these two sentences in this regard.

Sandy

Kwiziq community member

23 June 2018

23/06/18

Había is for actions that ran for a while, on a number of occasions, or things that used to happen in the past.


Hubo is to say what happened on one specific occasion.


"There used to be a house here, but one day there was a fire" - the first part was an ongoing existence of something in the past, for which había is used, and the second part is a specific event for which hubo is used


"había una casa aquí, pero un día hubo un incendio"



I'd agree with you though, that "there was a meeting at four" definitely should be hubo, and había would not really be right, unless it was "there was a daily meeting at four" or something

Clever stuff underway!