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Hay: Saying How Much & How Many in Spanish

  • 0:05 Saying How Much and…
  • 1:05 Numbers Review 1-10
  • 1:53 New Vocabulary
  • 2:38 How to Use Hay
  • 5:28 Hay Practice
  • 7:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Geary

Danielle teaches at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She holds a Doctor of Education with research concentration in Study Abroad and Foreign Language Acquisition.

In this lesson, you'll discover why the Spanish 'hay' is so unique. It describes how much, how many, and even forms part of a popular expression you can add to your conversation repertoire.

Saying How Much and How Many in Spanish

Spanish has some really cool words and phrases, and hay is one of them! It's both singular and plural. It can begin a statement or a question. It's two words in one. It's even part of a common expression. Vamos! Let's find out more about the uniqueness of hay.


Hay. What does it sound like? It sounds just like the pronoun 'I' in English, so you already know how to say it, which is cool enough, right? But hay is interesting for many reasons.

When to Use Hay

It's singular or plural, depending on context, and it's a statement or a question, depending on context. Yes, you heard that right: it's singular and plural, and a statement and a question - all depending on what you want to say! For instance, hay can mean 'there is' or 'there are' or, with a simple change of intonation in the voice, it can also mean 'is there??' or 'are there??' It may seem a little confusing right now, but give me a few minutes and you'll see why I like hay so much.

Numbers Review 1-10

To practice, let's review our numbers from 1 to 10 to help with this lesson, just to review. Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez. Again? Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez. And backwards? Can we do it? Diez, nueve, ocho, siete, seis, cinco, cuatro, tres, dos, uno. Muy bien!

New Vocabulary

And let's learn how to say a few more words to add to our practice section. Here's a gato and a perro. This is a caballo, pollo, vaca, and finally, cebra. And many of these animals are on the granja, or farm. So our vocabulary words are, to put them all together:

  • El gato (cat)
  • El perro (dog)
  • El caballo (horse)
  • El pollo (chicken)
  • La vaca (cow)
  • La cebra (zebra)
  • El animal (animal)
  • La granja (farm)
  • La casa (house)

How to Use Hay - Affirmative

Okay, let's ask the question, 'Are there chickens on the farm?' Make your intonation reflect a question: ?Hay pollos en la granja? Yes! There are chickens on the farm. Now make your intonation reflect a statement: Sí. Hay pollos en la granja. Note that intonation is everything when it comes to hay. Intonation indicates whether you're asking or telling.

  • ?Hay caballos? - Sí. Hay caballos.
  • ?Hay gatos? - Sí. Hay cuatro gatos.
  • ?Hay vacas? - Sí. Hay seis vacas.

But what if there's only one item? What if there's one horse or one cat or just one cow? Then the uno changes to agree with the gender of the noun. Uno becomes un or una. One horse is un caballo because it's masculine. One cat is un gato because it's masculine. One cow is una vaca because it's feminine.

How to Use Hay - Negative

So, all of these so far have been affirmative; there are horses, cats, and cows on the farm. But what if the answer's 'no?' What if there are no caballos on the farm? Well, then no comes before hay in our Spanish sentence: There are no caballos on the farm = No hay caballos en la granja. Now, I know this is a little strange, but in Spanish, the no comes before the verb, not after.

  • No hay cebras. = There are not zebras.
  • No hay perros en la granja. = There are not dogs on the farm.
  • Pero hay perros en la casa! = But there are dogs in the house!

Note that en can mean in, on, at, or inside according to context - just to help you with this section so you don't get confused with that en. Going on...

  • There are = Hay
  • There are not = No hay

And are you ready for that intonation? Go!

  • Are there? = ?Hay?
  • Are there not or aren't there? = ?No hay?

Hay Practice

Bien, let's put it all together!

How do you say animal? Animal. Horse? Caballo. Cat? Gato. Chicken? Pollo. Dog? Perro. Cow? Vaca. Zebra? Cebra. And our farm? Granja.

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