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Master “Haber” in Spanish: Conjugation, Meaning, Usage and More

Haber is an auxiliary verb, which means it helps other verbs express their tense or mood.

You’ll hear it all the time in Spanish conversations, making it essential to learn.

Read on to learn how to use haber—including haber conjugations, meanings, usages and more—as an impersonal verb, an auxiliary verb and a participle.

We’ll also cover all of the haber conjugations and common expressions that use this super handy verb.

Contents

Uses of Haber in Spanish

Haber can take the form of an impersonal verb, an auxiliary verb or a past participle, and can be used in the following ways:

  • To indicate existence. The most basic use of haber is to indicate existence. This can be tangible, like Hay una mesa en el comedor (There is a table in the dining room). But it can also indicate something intangible, like Hay química entre nosotros (There is chemistry between us).
  • To indicate a lack of existence. This is the opposite of the first usage. For example: No hay ninguna cama en la cocina (There isn’t any bed in the kitchen). You can also use it to ask if something exists: ¿Hay velas? (Are there any candles?).
  • Shows what must be done when coupled with que. Haber que means “have to” or “must,” just like tener que. For example: Hay que tener cuidado (We/one/you/I must be careful).
  • As a helping verb supporting the sentence’s main verb. In this function, haber and its companion verb express an action that has been or will be completed. It’s roughly equivalent to the English “have” or “had.” For example: Había salido (I had left).
  • As a present participle. You may see it in the present participle form, which never changes: habiendo. This translates to the English “having,” like this: Habiendo cenado, Luis decidió mirar televisión (Having eaten dinner, Luis decided to watch television).
  • As a past participle. You may also see haber in the past participle form, paired with its auxiliary verb form: haber + habido. For example: Ha habido muchos cambios este año (There have been a lot of changes this year.)

Haber as an Impersonal Verb

Remember that as an impersonal verb (a verb that does not have a true subject), haber indicates existence and is always conjugated in the third-person form.

Let’s look at some more examples:

No habrá posibilidad de amor en mi vida, porque Ana no me quiere más.
(There will be no chance of love in my life, because Ana doesn’t love me anymore.)

Hay demasiada tristeza en las noticias.
(There is too much sadness on the news.)

Siempre hay gente que no cree en lo verdadero.
(There are always people who don’t believe in what is true.)

Impersonal Haber Conjugations in the Indicative

The indicative mood discusses facts—things that have happened, are happening or will happen.

Haber is conjugated in the indicative mood when it’s used as an impersonal verb. So it will take on one of these indicative tenses:

TenseSpanishEnglish
Present Hay There is/are
Imperfect Había There was/were
Preterite Hubo There was/were
Future Habrá There will be
Conditional Habría There would be
Present Perfect Ha habido There has/have been
Pluperfect Había habido There had been
Preterite Perfect
(archaic)
Hubo habido There had been
Future Perfect Habrá habido There will have been
Conditional Perfect Habría habido There would have been

Impersonal Haber Conjugations in the Subjunctive

The subjunctive mood discusses opinions, perceptions, possibilities and more.

Here’s how to conjugate haber as an impersonal verb in the subjunctive mood:

TenseSpanishEnglish
Present Haya There is/are
Imperfect Hubiera , Hubiese There was/were
Future
(archaic)
Hubiere There would be
Present Perfect Haya habido There has/have been
Pluperfect Hubiera habido , Hubiese habido There had been
Future Perfect
(archaic)
Hubiere habido There will have been

Common Expressions with Hay

Many useful phrases in Spanish use hay.

You’ll hear these quite frequently, so I suggest adding them to your flashcard decks and committing them to memory:

  • Hay de todo — There’s a bit of everything
  • De lo que no hay — The worst/the pits
  • Aquí hay tomate / Aquí hay gato encerrado — Something’s fishy (literally: here there are tomatoes)
  • A buen hambre no hay pan duro — Beggars can’t be choosers (literally: to good hunger there isn’t hard bread)
  • Es lo que hay — That’s all there is
  • Hay de todo como en botica — There’s a wide range/there’s a bit of everything (literally: there’s everything like in the pharmacy)
  • Hay más tiempo que vida — There’s all the time in the world (literally: there’s more time than life)

There are tons more expressions where you’ll encounter hay (or other forms of haber), but this list is enough to get you started.

Once you’ve committed these to memory though, I highly recommend searching for more the next time you chat with a native speaker or watch Spanish content. Programs like FluentU make this even easier since interactive subtitles are added to every video.

Haber as an Auxiliary Verb

When haber is used as an auxiliary verb, it is paired with another verb in the past participle form (ending with –ado or –ido) to talk about actions that have been or will be completed.

For example:

Han estudiado durante tres horas hoy.
(They have studied for three hours today.)

Mateo e Isabella habrán estado casados dos años este mes.
(Mateo and Isabella will have been married for two years this month.)

Auxiliary Haber Conjugations in the Indicative

In the indicative mood, you’ll see these forms of the auxiliary verb haber:

PresentImperfectPreteriteFutureConditional
He
I have
Había
I used to have
Hube
I had
Habré
I will have
Habría
I would have
Has
You have
Habías
You used to have
Hubiste
You had
Habrás
You will have
Habrías
You would have
Ha
He/she has
You (formal) have
Había
He/she/you used to have
Hubo
He/she/you had
Habrá
He/she/you will have
Habría
He/she/you would have
Hemos
We have
Habíamos
We used to have
Hubimos
We had
Habremos
We will have
Habríamos
We would have
Habéis
You (plural) have
Habíais
You used to have
Hubisteis
You had
Habréis
You will have
Habríais
You would have
Han
They/you (formal, plural) have
Habían
They/you used to have
Hubieron
They/you had
Habrán
They/you will have
Habrían
They/you would have

Haber as a Participle

You may also see haber in the past participle form, paired with its auxiliary verb form: haber + habido.

For example:

Ha habido muchos cambios este año.
(There have been a lot of changes this year.)

TenseSpanishEnglish
Present Perfect Ha habido There has/have been
Pluperfect Había habido There had been
Preterite Perfect
(archaic)
Hubo habido There had been
Future Perfect Habrá habido There will have been
Conditional Perfect Habría habido There would have been

Participle Haber Conjugations in the Subjunctive

In the subjunctive mood, haber conjugates like this alongside the past participle form of another verb:

PresentImperfectFuture
(archaic)
Haya
I have
Hubiera , Hubiese
I had
Hubiere
I will have
Hayas
You have
Hubieras , Hubieses
You had
Hubieres
You will have
Haya
He/she/you (formal) have
Hubiera , Hubiese
He/she/you had
Hubiere
He/she/you will have
Hayamos
We have
Hubiéramos , Hubiésemos
We had
Hubiéremos
We will have
Hayáis
You (plural) have
Hubierais , Hubieseis
You had
Hubiereis
You will have
Hayan
They/you (formal, plural) have
Hubieran , Hubiesen
They/you had
Hubieren
They/you will have

Just like the perfect tenses in the indicative mood, you’ll only ever use haber + habido in the third-person singular form.

TenseSpanishEnglish
Present Perfect Haya habido There has/have been
Pluperfect Hubiera habido There had been
Future Perfect
(archaic)
Hubiere habido There would have been

Haber Example Sentences

En medio de la sombra podría haber un destello de luz.

in the middle of the shadow there could be a glimmer of light.
Lo que Eric hizo fue inteligente. Se sacó la ropa, la estrujó y se movió rápido, pero también pudo haber rodado sobre la nieve,

What Eric did was smart. He took his clothes off, wrung them out and moved fast, but he could have rolled on the snow, too,
Hay algo que hace que luchemos incansablemente por estar más lindas.

There is something that makes us fight tirelessly to be more beautiful.
No hubo señal de que sucedía algo anormal en el embarazo.

There wasn’t any sign that something abnormal was happening in the pregnancy.
Tiene que ver el animal que haya mucha confianza, que sabe que no le vamos a hacer nada.

The animal has to see that there is a lot of trust, that he knows that we’re not going to do anything to him.
Sin duda a México le ha convenido y le ha ido mejor cuando ha habido gobernantes republicanos.

Without a doubt it’s been favorable and has gone better for Mexico when there have been Republican leaders.
Gracias a todos lo que me han. . . están viendo y se han. . . han abierto sus brazos.

Thanks to all who have… are watching me and have… have opened their arms.
Mañana habrá calabaza asada.

Tomorrow there will be roasted pumpkin,
¿Qué le habrán hecho mis manos?

What have my hands done to her?
Hay que saber escucharles.

You have to know how to listen to them.

Haber Practice Quiz: Test Yourself!

0%
¿Cuántas manzanas ____ ?  (How many apples are there?)
Correct! Wrong!

____ dicho que no. (He had said no.)
Correct! Wrong!

Ya ____ terminado. (I have finished already.)
Correct! Wrong!

Espero que ____ muchos regalos. (I hope there are lots of gifts.)
Correct! Wrong!

____ viajado para verte. (They have traveled to see you.)
Correct! Wrong!

____ sido un buen día. (It has been a great day.)
Correct! Wrong!

¿Por qué no ____ nadie aquí?  (Why is there no one here?)
Correct! Wrong!

____ tres helados. (There were three ice creams.)
Correct! Wrong!

¡____ tanta nieve! (There's so much snow!)
Correct! Wrong!

____ caminado mucho. (We have walked a lot.)
Correct! Wrong!

 

 

So, what’s there in your dining room? Who is (or isn’t) there in your heart?

I think it’s your turn to practice haber conjugations now.

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