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Let’s learn the verb haber so that we can use he, ha, has, han, and hemos to put other verbs in the past, using their participles.

Full Podcast Episode


A bear!

Intro: Join us on a rigorous, step-by-step journey to fluency. I’m Timothy and this is LearnCraft Spanish.

Today we’re going to learn one of the Spanish words for “to have”.

I say “one of” because we use the verb “to have” to mean multiple things in English. For example,

I have a book.

In this case, the term “have” indicates possession of some type. I have a book.

Now check out this sentence:

I have eaten.

Am I talking about possession here? No, I’m just talking about something I’ve DONE. It’s kind of like saying

I ate.

In the first example, “have” is putting the verb “eat” in the past, to mean something very similar to “I ate”.

Spanish has two different verbs for “to have”. One is used for possession, and the other is used for having done something, or putting a verb in the past. Today we’re learning the version that puts things in the past. You can generally tell if that’s what you’re dealing with by using the “eaten” test. If you see “have” or “has” in English, see if there’s a verb after it that’s a lot like “eaten”.

For example, which type of “have” are we dealing with in this sentence?

I have been a student.

This is putting the verb Ser in the past, using the word sido. We learned this in Episode 32 as the “participle”, which is an unconjugated version of a verb that’s used to put things in the past. Here are some more examples of participles being used:

They have found it.

She has been here.

We have eaten.

It has left.

In each case, the “have” or “has” verb is a form of today’s verb, Haber (spelled h-a-b-e-r).

Haber means “to have”, specifically for putting things in the past. We have five forms of this to learn, but before we do, let’s look at why this verb is so handy. Check out this sentence:

I have been here.

If we change this to “he, she, or it”, the verb “have” changes to “has”:

He has been here.

But the word “been” hasn’t changed. In fact, as we’ve observed before, that form of the verb, the participle, never changes. What’s changing instead is the verb “to have”. There are five forms of Haber to learn, so that we can say “have”, “has”, and so on… and then once you do, you can start to use the Haber conjugations to put ANY verb in the past tense like this without memorizing all their past tense conjugations.

So for the next few minutes, we’ll be using a memory palace to learn the five most important conjugations that Haber uses to put things in the past.

The word haber almost sounds like “a bear”, even though it starts with an H; that’s because the letter H is always silent in Spanish. So let’s use a bear to build our Haber memory palace. We’ve already visited two businesses in our imaginary world, the Ser funhouse and the Estar magic shop. There’s a third business for us to visit, and this one is run by a big, black bear. It’s a clothing shop, and this bear is a curmudgeonly old fellow who typically just grunts when he sees people. The two main things he likes to say are: “he?” and “ha!” You can think of the words “eh” and “ah” in English, which are spelled e-h and a-h, but the bear just spells them in reverse order. And this is pretty much his vocabulary. “Eh?” and “ah!” So generally, he says “eh?” to the youngsters and strange people he doesn’t like, but he says “ah!” to the people he likes.

Right off the bat, he doesn’t like you. So when you first walk in and he sees you, he says “eh?” But when you start addressing him, he says “ah!” because he wants all the attention on himself. So he means “have” as in “I have”, and ha means “has” as in “he”, “she”, “it”, or usted has.

As some examples:

I have been here.

He estado aquí.

She has been a good friend.

Ella ha sido una buena amiga.

OK, so since the bear doesn’t like you, his conjugation for you is he. He also doesn’t like your group of friends, the motley crew of short and tall people —remember, “some of us are tall enough”, with the conjugations somos and estamos. He doesn’t like these guys. So this conjugation starts with he, but it has mos at the end: hemos.

But for some strange reason, the bear has taken a liking to your friend on the hovercraft. This young guy with curly red hair, who taught us estás and eres, has made a good impression on the bear. So his conjugation starts with ha, and it’s pronounced has (spelled H-A-S).

The bear also likes the pandas, because they’re fellow bears. Their conjugation is han.

Remember that all these words start with H, but the H is always silent.

So we have he, ha, hemos, has, and han.

Also, if it helps: Another way to think about these conjugations is to frame them as first person versus non first person. “I have” and “we have” both start with he. But all the rest start with ha. And the endings follow the universal patterns, with N at the end for the pandas, mos at the end for “we”, and S at the end for the informal second person.

So here’s a quick quiz before we even practice putting these in context. What is the bear’s conjugation, for “he has”, “she has”, or “it has”?

That’s ha.

What is an informal “have” for “you have”?

That’s has.

What’s the word for “they have”?

That’s han.

What about “I have?”


And “we have”?


Now let’s start using this verb. We’re simply going to start putting its conjugations before either sido or estado, and I’m going to start with some very simple sentence examples so that you’ll know which conjugation of Haber to pick and whether to use sido for Ser situations or estado for Estar situations.

You have been at the house.

Has estado en la casa.

It has been a good day.

Ha sido un buen día.

The girls have been friends.

Las chicas han sido amigas.

They have been here.

Han estado aquí.

I have not been here.

No he estado aquí.

We have been at the place.

Hemos estado en el lugar.

We have been good friends(f).

Hemos sido buenas amigas.

You have been a good guy.

Has sido un buen chico.

I have been your friend(m).

He sido tu amigo.

You(formal) have been here.

Usted ha estado aquí.

If you need more work with this, one great way to practice is first to draw out all your conjugations of Haber from memory on a blank piece of paper, and then to practice saying them in a random order with the word sido or estado after them. Combinations like ha sido, han estado, hemos sido, has estado, and so on happen all the time in Spanish, so you want them to flow in your speech naturally as soon as you can.

Also, remember that this verb, haber, and all of its forms, are only used to put something in the past, not to talk about possession. For example, check out the sentence:

We have lots of problems to address.

Would you use Haber in this case? The phrase after “have” is some sort of noun, so no, it’s not being used to put a verb in the past, as in the phrase “we have eaten”; instead, it’s “We have lots of problems”, kind of like “we have food”. So remember to practice identifying this in sentences, even in your everyday English. You’ll find that sometimes you use “have” to mean possession, but other times you use it to put things in the past.

Let’s also practice using the infinitive itself. This is used when the idea of “having done” something, or “having been” somewhere, or “having been” something, is being used as a noun. Here’s an example:

Having been her friend(f) was good.

Haber sido su amiga era bueno.

So see if you can predict how to say this one:

Nobody needs to have been at that place.

Nobody needs haber estado en ese lugar.

Nadie necesita haber estado en ese lugar.

We’re going to practice Haber in some more complicated sentences on today’s quiz, but first, let’s learn how to say “time” in Spanish.

Spanish has multiple words for time. One represents the passage of time, the word tiempo, spelled t-i-e-m-p-o. As a mnemonic, imagine an ancient temple that’s still standing after thousands of years. Imagine that you’re in a room, and you can see this temple out the window to the right. Think of tiempo as something that’s long-lasting, almost eternal.

On the left side of the room, we have a fragile vase sitting on a small table. This vase breaks every time someone walks by, and you have to replace it every time. This word is vez, spelled v-e-z.

The difference between la vez and el tiempo is that vez is used for events, or instances of something happening. But tiempo is used for the passage of time, or referring to amounts of time, almost thinking of time as a substance that you can use more or less of. So to say “this time” or “that time”, you would use esta vez or esa vez. But to say “lots of time”, you would say “lots of tiempo”.

So if we were talking about which time you were at my house, we might say “this time” or “that time”, always using vez. Almost like mentioning which time you broke my vase. That’s an event. But if I were to say “It’s been a long time”, we’re talking about the amount of the passage of time, so that’s tiempo.

Let’s practice choosing one or the other with a little quiz.

That time that he was at my house.

Esa vez que estuvo en mi casa.

How much time do you want to spend here?

¿How much tiempo do you want to spend aquí?

¿Cuánto tiempo quieres pasar aquí?

Not this time.

No esta vez.

I want to be here for a long time.

I want estar aquí por a long tiempo.

Quiero estar aquí por mucho tiempo.

In this next example, you’ll use the phrase una vez, literally “a time”, but it’s how you say “one time” or “once” in Spanish.

I have been at that place one time.

He estado en ese lugar una vez.

There’s also a fun way we can use tiempo along with the verb Haber. Check out this sentence example and see if you can tell what’s going on:

Han estado aquí por un tiempo.

So literally, “they have been here for a time”. In Spanish, the word tiempo can be used to refer to a passage of time, or a “while”. Here’s another example; see if you can predict the Spanish:

We have been at that place for a while.

Hemos estado en ese lugar por un tiempo.

Now let’s practice everything we’ve been working on recently with our final quiz.

We have had a lot of time.

Hemos had a lot of tiempo.

Hemos tenido mucho tiempo.

This time I have been a good girl.

Esta vez he sido una buena chica.

This man and that woman have been here.

Este hombre y esa mujer han estado aquí.

We have had the things since that day.

Hemos had las cosas since ese día.

Hemos tenido las cosas desde ese día.

She has been here one time.

Ha estado aquí una vez.

This has been here for days.

Esto ha estado aquí por días.

I haven’t had time, but we have had work.

No he had tiempo, pero hemos had work.

No he tenido tiempo, pero hemos tenido trabajo.

They have come from the place I mentioned.

Han come del lugar que I mentioned.

Han venido del lugar que mencioné.

This one(m) hasn’t been here for a while.

Este no ha estado aquí por un tiempo.

I want that house, but you have wanted this one(f).

Yo want esa casa, pero tú has wanted esta.

Yo quiero esa casa, pero tú has querido esta.

They have had this thing.

Han had esta cosa.

Han tenido esta cosa.

 Having been here wasn’t good for that one (m).


You(formal) have had enough time at this house.

Usted ha had enough tiempo en esta casa.

Usted ha tenido suficiente tiempo en esta casa.

You have not eaten that one (f).

No has eaten esa.

No has comido esa.

To have gone would be good, but she hasn’t gone.

Haber gone sería bueno, pero no ha gone.

Haber ido sería bueno, pero no ha ido.

You have been at this place.

Has estado en este lugar.

You aren’t going to the place where I was that time.

No you’re going al lugar donde estuve esa vez.

No vas a ir al lugar donde estuve esa vez.

For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/36.

Tomorrow we’ll learn some new pronouns, including the words for “nothing”, “something”, and “everything”.

This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach Michael Agudelo. Our music was provided by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.

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