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HABER: The Spanish Verb Demystified!

Updated: May 20, 2020


If you were to say “There are a lot of people at the party!” in Spanish, how would you say it? You would use the verb HABER! Let’s learn how. Although haber is often translated as “have” it is very different to that meaning in English. HABER is used in a few ways in indicative and is very important when learning Spanish. It is used firstly as an Auxiliary Verb in Compound Tenses. When used as an auxiliary verb, HABER means ‘to have accomplished’ a verb. Here a few examples: He comido un sandwich. (I have eaten a sandwich.) ¿Te has duchado? (Have you showered?) Lo han comprado. (They have bought it.) Habría ido. (I would have gone.) Haber in its most simple use is noting that something exists. In ways such as physical items, and also in a intangible sense. Hay mucha gente en la fiesta. (There are a lot of people at the party.) Hay química entre nosotros. (There is chemistry between us.) The infinitive haber is no different than other infinitives in Spanish: Va a haber desafíos. (There will be challenges.) The Simple Past and the Imperfect using haber: Keep in mind the difference between the simple past, which is defined and terminated, and the imperfect past, which is undefined, habitual or a repetitive action. Hubo – simple Había imperfect Hubo un problema ayer. (There was a problem yesterday.) Cuando llegamos a la pileta había cuatro personas nadando. (When we got to the pool, there were four people swimming.) The Future Tense The future form indicates what will exist.


Habré En un año habré terminado de instalar mi pileta. (In one year I will have already finished installing my pool.)

If you want to practice using haber, a good way to start is by describing what exists and what does not! For example, if you know some vobaculary related to cities, you can describe your hometown. Does it have a subway? Does it have a library?

These are many of the uses of HABER in the indicative. There are even more in the subjunctive mood that I will go over in a future post. Comment any common Spanish phrases you know that use HABER in any form!


~ If you enjoyed this article please check out my website and give me a like on facebook! I’m a Spanish teacher based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since 2007 I have been exclusively teaching Spanish to foreigners from all over the world. Whether looking for an online Spanish tutor, or in person while visiting Buenos Aires, please reach out to me with any questions you might have!~
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