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A story to help you use HAY/ ESTÁ(N)

Imagine you just landed on a foreign planet all by yourself. You look around and spot a bunch of peculiar aliens who appear out of nowhere. You spend sometime watching them, until you realize that you haven't had lunch yet, you are thirsty, and you would feel much better knowing where you are going to lay your head tonight. So you decide to approach one of those funny aliens to inquire about the area. 

Traje Spacey

They walk so rapidly, though, you reckon you're too slow to follow their pace. Still, you do your best, and eventually you reach a citizen from this foreign planet. For a fraction of a second, you worry.'How will I communicate with them?' You wonder. But then, a female alien looks at you in the eyes and says:

¿Puedo ayudarte?


Wow, aren't you lucky? The alien speaks Spanish, and so do you. Now you can start bombarding her with questions. And what do you enquire? The usual stuff. You want to know if in this foreign planet there is a hotel, a restaurant. You also want to know about museums, theatres, cafés, bars...

And so you start by asking:

- ¿Hay hoteles en tu planeta?

Is there hotels on your planet?

- ¿Hay algún restaurante?

- Is there a restaurant?


Once you know this fabulous planet has got so many amenities you just need now to find out where they are. Again you ask your new friend:

- ¿Dónde están los hoteles?

- Where are the hotels?

- ¿Dónde está el restaurante?

- Where is the restaurant?

After talking to your new friend, you feel so happy you never missed your Spanish lesson HAY vs. ESTÁ/ ESTÁN. You can still remember your teacher saying: 


Hay is used to talking about the the existence or non-existence of something, or somebody.


For instance:

Hay un restaurante por aquí.

- There is a restaurant near by.

Hay algunos niños en el parque.

- There are some children in the park.

As you can see by the two examples above, HAY means both: there is and  there are. It is the impersonal form of the verb HABER.

Hay + indefinite article: un/ una/ unos/ unas + noun

- Hay un diccionario en la mesa.

- There is a dictionary on the table.

Hay + numerals + noun

- Hay dos niños en el parque.

- There are two children in the park.

Hay + plural noun

- Hay personas muy simpáticas aquí.

- There are very nice people here.

Hay +  uncountable noun

- Hay leche en la nevera.

- There is milk in the fridge.

Hay + singular/ plural noun

(When we enquire about the amenities in a particular place.)

- ¿Hay sauna en el gimnasio?

- Is there sauna in the gym?


        Never use el/ la/ los/ las (definite articles) with hay.

- Hay el sofá en el salón.

    - Hay un sofá en el salón.


ESTÁ/ ESTÁN, on the other hand, is used to locate  things, places or services.

For example:

- ¿Dónde está el restaurante?

- Where is the restaurant?

El/ la/ los/las (definite article) + noun + está/están

- Las llaves están en el bolso.

- The keys are in the bag.


Mi / tu / su ... (possessive adjective) + noun + está/están

- Mi hermana está en la oficina.

- My sister is in the office.


Proper noun + está/ están

- Antonio está en la playa.

- Antonio is in the beach.

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Cielo negro
Now that you know that on your new planet there are restaurants, hotels, banks... (hay restaurantes, hoteles, bancos...) and where they are. (donde están), you might as well spend some time in this foreign planet with those lovely aliens. Perhaps a week or two, or even three or four, who knows.
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