Are you confused about the similar-sounding Spanish words hay, ahí, and ay? If that's the case, this brief lesson will help you to know how and when to use each of them. Let's take a look!
The word hay, an impersonal form of the Spanish verb haber, is used to express existence. In other words, hay is the Spanish equivalent of "there is" and "there are." Let's see a couple of clips that include it:
Encima de ella, hay una lámpara negra.
Above her, there's a black lamp.
Caption 18, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos: Hay y estarPlay Caption
hay cosas muy interesantes,
there are very interesting things,
Caption 61, Aprendiendo con Silvia Campanas - Part 2Play Caption
Ahí, on the other hand, is an adverb meaning "in that place." It is one of the Spanish equivalents of the English word "there." Let's see some examples:
y lo dejaremos ahí hasta que hierva.
and we'll leave it there until it boils.
Caption 19, Ana Carolina Ponche navideñoPlay Caption
y Minos, con una cara que no era la suya, se quedó ahí para siempre.
and Minos, with a face that wasn't his own, stayed there forever.
Captions 43-44, Aprendiendo con Carlos El microrrelato - Part 3Play Caption
Last but not least, the Spanish word ay, which is often translated with the English interjection "oh," is used to express a range of different emotions like the following:
Ay, lentejas al almuerzo, lentejas a la comida... Ay, mamá, -Lentejitas. -¡qué pobreza tan asquerosa! -¡Mm!
Oh, lentils for lunch, lentils for dinner... Oh, Mom, -Lentils. -what revolting poverty! -Hmm!
Captions 17-18, Confidencial: Broma pesada Capítulo 1 - Part 6Play Caption
¡Ay! ¡Estoy horrible!
Oh! I look horrible!Play Caption
Es por ahí. ¡Ahí es! Ay... ¡ay!
It's around there. There it is! Oh... oh!Play Caption
You can also use the word ay to introduce a comment or response about something. Let's look at a couple of examples of this usage:
¿Qué? Ay, Kevin, nosotros no podemos esperarlo durante cuatro años.
What? Oh, Kevin, we can't wait for you for four years.
Captions 2-3, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 13 - Part 7Play Caption
Ay, mijo, hacele caso a tu mamá, ¿sí?
Oh, my son, listen to your mom, OK?
Caption 39, Carlos comenta La sucursal del cielo - Part 4Play Caption
Now that we know how to use these three words, we would like to invite you to remember the following sentence, which some teachers use to teach the difference between the aforementioned terms:
Ahí hay un hombre que dice ay.
There, there's a man who says oh.
That's all for this lesson. Do you now feel confident about using the words hay, ahí, and ay? We hope so, and don't forget to send us your suggestions and comments.