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Few of us who speak English as a first language follow all the rules of grammar, especially in everyday conversation. So it shouldn't be surprising if Spanish speakers often break the rules of what is considered proper grammar. For example...


December 6, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Present: There are and There is = Hay (same)
Past: There were: Habían (Plural)
Past: There was: Había (Singular)

February 8, 2009 at 10:44 am
(2) Alain de Leon says:

You’re wrong Alvaro.
Present: There are and there is: HAY
Past (plural and singular): HABIA

It’s not correct HABIAN
Neither is correct HABIAMOS


June 24, 2009 at 1:42 am
(3) Annie says:

thats wrong Alain, habiamos is WE WERE, habian es THEY WERE

June 24, 2009 at 10:39 pm
(4) Corbin Allred says:

You’re wrong Annie… at least, you could be. It all depends on how you use it. Alain was correct:

Present: There are and there is: hay
Past (plural and singular): había

Había is used when referring to one or many number of things in the past, i.e. había dos personas. You NEVER use habían when referring to an amount in the past, it’s incorrect.

The only time you can use “habían” is with a past participle. i.e. habían comido.

June 28, 2009 at 8:57 am
(5) Roberto says:

Buenas tardes.Lo que ha dicho Corbin Allred es correcto

January 20, 2010 at 2:31 pm
(6) amanda says:

Yes, this is correct. If used with another verb (past participle), then you can conjugate it to all forms (habia, habias, habian, etc,) But if you mean it to be the past of “hay”, then there is just one form: habia.

February 2, 2010 at 9:01 am
(7) Anar says:

Can we say:
Habian hablado con el gerente del hotel

February 2, 2010 at 9:21 am
(8) Spanish Guide says:

As an auxiliary verb, the regular plural form is used.

March 25, 2010 at 8:24 am
(9) sam says:

habian is not correct, because an impersonal verb like habia doesn’t have plural in spanish, is the same habia una persona, there was one person, habia dos personas, there were two people, so if you use HABIAN that’s grammatically incorrect.

October 2, 2010 at 6:54 pm
(10) Tiffany says:

Alvaro is right. I’m a Hispanic Studies major, and we study all the tenses of Spanish. Había is the third person singular form of haber in the imperfect tense.

November 19, 2010 at 6:26 pm
(11) scott says:

By the book, Alain, Corbin, Amanda, and Sam have got it right. It’s confusing because some of you are talking about a different use of the verb! To clarify:

The verb “haber” has two uses. It can be used as an impersonal verb to express the existence of something (e.g. “hay cincuenta estados” – “there are fifty states”) OR it can be used as an auxiliary verb (e.g. “he corrido cinco kilometros hoy” – “I have run five kilometers today”).

When using “haber” to express existence in the past tense, it is technically correct to only use the third person singular, just as we only use the third person singular in the present (“hay”). This is regardless of quantity! For example: “Había muchas personas en el parque.” (There were many people in the park.)

When using “haber” as an auxiliary verb to form the past perfect (for example: “they had eaten all the food in the house”), then you conjugate “haber” to whichever form matches the subject. For example: “Habían comido toda la comida en la cassa.”

Anar, yes your example is perfectly correct. Annie and Tiffany, note that this article was about the impersonal use of the verb “haber”, and NOT about it’s use in the perfect tenses.

July 8, 2013 at 1:31 am
(12) NAD says:

Corbin is right and explains the example I saw in a grammar site of spanish but with a misprinted explanation. Here is the example given in that page:

Hay dos carros rojos en la entrada. There are two red cars in the driveway.
Hay un señor vendiendo tortillas afuera. There is a man selling tortillas outside.
The past tense uses one form as well:

Había muchos problemas con la casa. There were many problems with the house.
Había un problema muy grave. There was a serious problem.
The present subjunctive form of haber is haya.

Espero que no haya mucha gente en el partido. I hope there aren’t many people at the game.
Quiero que haya muchas bebidas en la fiesta. I want there to be a lot of drinks at the party.
The past subjunctive form of haber is hubiera:

Yo esperaba que no hubiera tanta gente en el partido. I was hoping that there wouldn’t be so many people at the game.
Yo quería que hubiera muchas bebidas en la fiesta. I want there to be a lot of drinks at the party.

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