MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

171 views

Why does the verb "haber" sometimes not match the person and number of the subject in a sentence?

The main uses of the verb "haber" include its use as an auxilliary verb (ha comido) and as part of a verbal periphrasis (he de soportar), in this case, the person (first, second or third person) and number (singular, plural) do match those of the subject in a sentence.

However, one of the most important uses of this verb is in its impersonal form. This means that "haber" in its impersonal form appears in sentences that do not have a "person" or object as a subject. For example in "Hay una té en la mesa", one may think that "té" is the subject when in reality it is a direct object. In another example, "Hubo varios voluntarios en la sala", it might appear more confusing, as one might think that the subject would be "varios voluntarios", which is in plural.

One way to make sure whether the verb we are working with is impersonal or not is to attempt replacing the apparent subject with a direct object pronoun (lo, la, los, las) and a subject pronoun (él, ella, ellos, ellas), and check with which one is the sentence coherent. In the sentence "Hay té en la mesa":

Él hay en la mesa (as subject)

Lo hay en la mesa (as direct object)

As we can see above, the first sentence is not coherent as a "person" or object cannot perform the action of the conjugated verb "hay". Therefore, the second sentence proves that the verb "haber" in this case functions as impersonal.

Hui Z. IB Spanish tutor, GCSE Spanish tutor, A Level Spanish tutor, I...

4 months ago

Answered by Hui, an A Level Spanish tutor with MyTutor


Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

75 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£20 /hr

Natalie H.

Degree: Modern Languages (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered: Spanish, English+ 1 more

Spanish
English
Business Studies

“About Me I'm a student of Modern Languages at the University of Exeter with a strong passion for languages and cultures. I aim to motivate my students through fun, interesting and engaging sessions which are tailored towards the needs...”

£20 /hr

Monty F.

Degree: Modern Languages and Cultures (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered: Spanish, French

Spanish
French

“Hi, I'm Monty, and I study French and Spanish at Durham University. I have a great passion for languages, and am very keen to teach them. I am also extremely friendly, organised and patient, and have experience in teaching languages t...”

MyTutor guarantee

£20 /hr

Olivia C.

Degree: Spanish and Italian (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered: Spanish, French

Spanish
French

“About me: I am a second year at Exeter University studying Modern Languages (Spanish and beginner's Italian). I've always loved languages and have spent time in both Spain and France on work experience schemes, as well as many a sunny...”

About the author

Hui Z.

Currently unavailable: for regular students

Degree: Biomedical Science (Bachelors) - Kings, London University

Subjects offered: Spanish, Biology

Spanish
Biology

“About me My name is Hui and I am a Biomedical Science student at King's College London. I was born in Alicante, Spain so I speak native Spanish and since I was young I developed an interest for languages (for sciences too!). I believe...”

MyTutor guarantee

You may also like...

Other A Level Spanish questions

How do you ask someone how their day is going?

When is the subjunctive used in Spanish?

How do you form the imperfect subjunctive in Spanish?

How can I distinguish when to use the verbs "ser" or "estar"?

View A Level Spanish tutors

Cookies:

We use cookies to improve our service. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok