Today we talk about the difference between the two Spanish verbs: Hay vs Está. In order to clear up any confusion, El Rincón del Tándem Spanish school provides you with a short explanation and simple rules. Take a look at the post below! ?

One of the questions that our students usually make during Spanish lessons concerns the difference between hay and está. Since the difference in meaning is quite subtle, students often get them mixed up and hesitate to choose the correct one.

In fact, in Spanish we can use both of them to ask “where someone or something is” (¿Dónde está? / ¿Dónde hay?)

The main trick to make the right choice, is focusing on what we are asking about. That means, if we are looking for something specific or not.

Let’s see the examples below:

  • ¿Dónde está la floristería “la Flor Morada”? = Where is the florist “La Flor Morada”?
  • ¿Dónde hay una floristería”? = Is there a florist?


In the first case we are asking for a specific florist. That is clear because of the definitive article and the proper name of the shop. In this case, we use “está”.

In the second case, we are asking if there’s a florist nearby (any florist). In other words, we are asking if a florist exists in the area we are. In this case, we use “hay”.

Therefore, the main difference in meaning between hay and está is that:

– “HAY” (or “había”) is used to indicate the existence of a person or an object
– “ESTÁ” (están/etaba/estaban) is used to indicate the location of aspecific person or object.


Hay un libro en la mesa = There is a book on the table
El libro está en la mesa = The book is on the table

The difference in meaning (existence or location) also affect the grammar structure; that is, the way we build sentences with hay or estar.

Therefore, we generally use HAY with:

– Noun(s) without articles

Hay buenos conciertos en el Festival de verano = There are good concerts at the Summer Festival

– Indefinite article + noun(s)

¿Dónde hay una farmacia? = Is there a farmacy?

– Numeric adjectives and pronouns

Hay cuatro personas en el bar = There are four people in the bar

We generally use ESTÁ/ESTÁN with:

– Definitive article + noun(s)

El restaurante “Mediterráneo” está cerca del parque = The restaurant “Mediterraneo” is close to the park
Los pacientes están en la sala de espera = The patients are in the waiting room

– Possessives (adjectives and pronouns)

Mi portatil está en la oficina = My laptop is in the office

– ¿Dónde pusiste las maletas? = Where did you place the suitcases?
La mía está en el coche = Mine is in the car

– Proper nouns

Amparo está en Toronto = Amparo is in Toronto

¿Dónde está Luis? = Where is Luis?

We hope this blog on the Spanish verbs: Hay vs Está helped you understand the difference in meaning and usage.

If you want to know more about Spanish verbs, do not miss our next post!

Besides, our Spanish school, El Rincón del Tándem would be happy to provide you with Spanish lessons in Valencia and a cosy place where you can study Spanish by having fun!

Till the next blog ?