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Hay and greetings

Buenos días, buenas tardes, buenas noches! In this episode we’ll cover some essential greetings and polite terms in Spanish, such as gracias and de nada. We’ll also discuss how to use Haber to talk about existence, using words like hay and había.

Full Podcast Episode


Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.

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 our first greetings and interjections in Spanish, including “hello”, “good morning”, and “thank you”.

But first, we need to talk about Haber for a second. There’s something absolutely bizarre that this verb does that no other verb does in Spanish. It actually has a second meaning, and an extra present-tense conjugation that we haven’t learned yet.

So far, we’ve only used Haber along with the participles of other verbs. Here are some examples:

He estado en ese lugar.

No hemos hecho eso.

Lo habrá sido.

Habían ido al lugar una vez.

In each case, the meaning of the sentence comes from the participle of some other verb. The job of Haber is simply to put those other verbs in the past — or in the past of the past, or in the past of the future.

But there’s one form of Haber that can’t be used before participles, the word hay, spelled h-a-y. This word means “there is” or “there are”. We use this word when we’re talking about something’s existence in some place. If you think about it, In English, when we say “there is” or “there are”, we’re not really talking about location, using the word “there”; instead, we’re specifically emphasizing that something exists. Well, Spanish has a specific word for this, and it’s the word hay.

Here are a couple of examples:

There’s someone in my house.

Hay alguien en mi casa.

There is something else at that place.

Hay algo más en ese lugar.

What does this word have to do with Haber? There are a few very strange things about the word hay. First of all, although it’s considered a present-tense conjugation of Haber, it’s completely extra, on top of all the personal conjugations that we’ve learned. No other verb has an extra present-tense conjugation like this. And second, you can use this word in either singular or plural situations. For example:

There are more things here.

Hay más cosas aquí.

Third, this has nothing to do with anything we previously learned about Haber! You can’t use hay before a participle.

So why is hay considered a part of Haber at all, rather than just being a totally different verb? Well I do think it’s easiest to think of hay as a different verb, but specifically a different version of Haber, not the version that puts things in the past, but the impersonal version that’s used for existence. It’s like there’s an alternate universe where the verb Haber doesn’t go before participles, and it isn’t conjugated into five different people.

But the thing is, this version of Haber IS still conjugated, specifically based on tense. For example, you can put it in the past to change “there are more things here” to “there were more things here”. In this case, you’d use había.

Había más cosas aquí.

You won’t use habías, habían, or habíamos; you’ll only use había.

You can also put it in the future, using the third-person singular form that we learned before, habrá. So for example:

There will be more things here.

Habrá más cosas aquí.

And then there’s one more way we can use this impersonal form of Haber — we can actually put it in the future using Ir to say “there is going to be”. For example:

There is going to be something here.

Va a haber algo aquí.

So in this example it’s super clear that we’re using the verb Haber, because there it is, right there, in its infinitive form. But since there’s no participle after it, you can tell that it’s not the version of Haber that puts things in the past; instead, it’s this alternative form of Haber for talking about the existence of something.

Let’s practice this with some examples.

There is a man at the place.

Hay un hombre en el lugar.

There will be a woman here.

Habrá una mujer aquí.

The truth is that there was something here.

La verdad es que había algo aquí.

There isn’t anything.

No hay nada.

There is going to be something.

Va a haber algo.

Yes, in case there was somebody here.

Sí, por si había alguien aquí.

OK, let’s get to some more fun stuff. After almost 50 episodes of this podcast, it’s finally time to work on greetings! At LearnCraft Spanish, we don’t believe that greetings are a great place to start when you’re learning a new language, because we don’t believe in making our students depend on scripts; in real life, after saying “hi, how are you?”, it’s too easy to get stuck as soon as things go off script. But now we’ve spent about 10 weeks training you to think fast on your feet, so it’s time to give you the nice social lubrication that greetings provide for starting conversations, because you now have some skills for expressing a wide variety of things after the conversation begins.

The word for “hi” is hola, spelled h-o-l-a. This is a very common way to say hello.

To say “good morning”, you say buenos días, literally “good days”, but it is the most idiomatic and common way to say “good morning”. Another way you might say it is buen día, literally “good day”, but that depends on the region and culture you’re in; buenos días is a bit more common.

To say “good evening” or “good night”, you can say buenas noches, once again making it plural. And to say “good afternoon”, you can say buenas tardes.

Let’s practice these a bit.

You’re really Sofía? Hi!

¿De verdad eres Sofía? ¡Hola!

Good evening! I was about to go to the place.

¡Buenas noches! Estaba por ir al lugar.

Good night! Your friends already went home?

¡Buenas noches! ¿Tus amigos ya fueron a casa?

Good morning! ¡How good that you all are going with me!

¡Buenos días! ¡Qué bueno que ustedes vayan conmigo!

Good afternoon! Will your friend go with you tonight?

¡Buenas tardes! ¿Tu amigo irá contigo esta noche?

Now we’ll learn two more things you can say to be polite in Spanish. We’ve already learned that to say “please”, you use the idiom por favor. The word for “thank you” is gracias, spelled g-r-a-c-i-a-s. For example:

Thank you! How nice!

¡Gracias! ¡Qué bueno!

To say “thanks for” something, you use the word por after gracias. For example:

Gracias por su tiempo.

You don’t say gracias para, because your thanks are not intended for the thing; instead, it’s more like those thanks are because of the thing you’re thanking the person for.

If someone else thanks you, the most conventional way to respond is with the idiom de nada. This literally means “of nothing”, but it’s the most common way to say “you’re welcome” in Spanish.

“¡Gracias!” “De nada.”

Let’s practice these greetings and polite terms, as well as everything we’ve learned about Haber, using today’s final quiz.

Good evening, sir! How is the Mrs.?

¡Buenas noches, señor! ¿Cómo está la señora?

Hi! You didn’t leave?

¡Hola! ¿No te fuiste?

You didn’t go but I went.

No fuiste pero yo fui.

Good morning! They(m) are about to go.

¡Buenos días! Ellos están por ir.

Thank you, but they are leaving now.

Gracias, pero ellos se van ahora.

There weren't enough things at that place.

No había enough cosas en ese lugar.

No había suficientes cosas en ese lugar.

Actually, I want her to leave, please.

En verdad, I want que se vaya, por favor.

En verdad, quiero que se vaya, por favor.

Good afternoon, miss, it’s a nice afternoon.

Buenas tardes, señorita, es una tarde nice.

Buenas tardes, señorita, es una tarde agradable.

We didn’t go there because we value our lives.

No fuimos there because we value nuestras vidas.

No fuimos ahí porque valoramos nuestras vidas.

They want us to go next year. I will go!

They want que vayamos next año. ¡Yo iré!

Quieren que vayamos el próximo año. ¡Yo iré!

There is going to be a place like that around here.

Va a haber un lugar así por aquí.

She already left, but I don’t want you to leave.

Ella ya se fue, pero no I want que te vayas.

Ella ya se fue, pero no quiero que te vayas.

You’re welcome! It has been a pleasure.

¡De nada! Ha sido un pleasure

¡De nada! Ha sido un placer.

I think there will be many people that day.

I think que habrá many people ese día.

Creo que habrá muchas personas ese día.

Good morning! I’m no longer unwell.

¡Buen día! Ya no estoy mal.

There is a girl that is very tall, like a tree.

Hay una chica que es muy tall, como a tree.

I want to leave because I’m not well.

Me I want ir because no estoy bien.

Me quiero ir porque no estoy bien.

Thank you, but we’re leaving now.

Gracias, pero nos vamos ahora.

They hope that I don’t go dressed like this.

They hope que no vaya dressed así.

Esperan que no vaya vestido así.

For more practice with all of our new vocabulary, go to LCSPodcast.com/48.

Tomorrow we’re going to learn some new descriptive words to make your Spanish conversations more colorful.

This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach [...]. 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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