Haber Conjugation: Imperative, Conditional & Subjunctive Moods

Instructor: Elena Sacramento Lechado

Elena has a PhD in linguistics from University of La Laguna (Spain). Currently, she teaches Spanish as a foreign language and creates teaching resources.

In this Spanish lesson, you will learn how to use the verb ''haber'', which means 'to be' or 'to have', depending on the context. We will analyze its conjugation in the imperative, the conditional and the subjunctive.

What Does Haber Mean?

The Spanish verb haber (pronounced: ah-BAYHR) is a special verb, in the sense that it can be used in two different ways. Depending on how it is used, it will mean either 'to be/exist' or 'to have'.

In this lesson, we go over the different meanings and uses of haber, while we analyze its conjugation in three different tenses - the imperative, the conditional and the subjunctive. Let's start!

Using the Verb Haber

A couple of things about this verb:

  • Haber can work as an impersonal verb. This means that it doesn't need a subject pronoun. When used in this way, it means 'to be' or 'to exist' and we only use its third person singular form.
  • The other possibility is using haber as an auxiliary verb (the equivalent of the English 'have'). In this case, we can conjugate it with all the subject pronouns, but it can never be used on its own. We need the structure: haber + participle.

Note: In Spanish, regular participles are formed out by adding -ado or -ido to the verb stem (-ado to AR verbs, and -ido to the rest).

Now you're ready to take a close look at the conjugation of haber.

Imperative of Haber

We use the imperative to give direct orders or commands. However, the imperative of haber has lost its use with the course of time. Nowadays, you wouldn't find this tense in any real language context, unless you are reading a literary text from medieval Spanish literature!

So the good news is that you won't have to study this tense! But let's take a look at its forms, so that you can recognize them:

VERB: haber (ah-BAYHR) - to be, exist / to have

Subject Pronouns Imperative Pronunciation Translation
habe (AH-bayh) (you) be/exist/have
usted haya (AH-yah) (you - formal) be/exist/have
hayamos (ah-YAH-mohs) (we) let's be/exist/have
habed (ah-BAYHD) (you all - informal) be/exist/have
ustedes hayan (AH-yahn) (you all - formal) be/exist/have

Conditional of Haber

We use the conditional to talk about hypotheses or possibilities. So use this tense to say what might (or not) have been.

To conjugate haber in the conditional, we need to add the following endings to its stem (habr-):

VERB: haber (ah-BAYHR) - to be, exist / to have

Subject Pronouns Conditional Pronunciation Translation
yo habría (ah-BREE-ah) I would have
habrías (ah-BREE-ahs) you would have
habría (ah-BREE-ah) he/she
you (formal) would have
(impersonal: there would be)
habríamos (ah-BREE-ah-mohs) we would have
habríais (ah-BREE-iys) you all would have
habrían (ah-BREE-ahn) they /you all (formal) would have

Examples of Haber in the Conditional

As an Impersonal Verb

Use the form habría meaning 'there would be' when making an estimation.

  • Me dijeron que habría una sesión a las 5. (They told me there would be a showing at 5.)
  • Habría unas cien personas en la sala. (There would be around a hundred people in the movie theater.)

Translation: They told me there would be a showing at 5.

As an Auxiliary Verb

Use any of the conjugated forms of haber followed by a participle to express what would have happened in a given situation. Hear about Tania and Lorena's experience at the theater:

Tania: ¿Qué película habrías visto si no hubieras conseguido entradas para esta? (Which film would you have watched if you hadn't got tickets for this one?)

Lorena: Creo que habría elegido una película de fantasía. (I think I'd have chosen a fantasy movie.)

Subjunctive of Haber

The subjunctive is a mood or way of expressing subjective information, such as wishes, possibilities or uncertainty.

To conjugate haber in the present subjunctive, we need the irregular stem hay-, to which we will add the following endings:

VERB: haber (ah-BAYHR) - to be, exist / to have

Subject Pronouns Present Subjunctive Pronunciation Translation
yo haya (AH-yah) I have
hayas (AH-yahs) you have
haya (AH-yah) he/she has -
you (formal) have
(impersonal: there is/are)
hayamos (ah-YAH-mohs) we have
hayáis (ah-YIYS) you all have
hayan (AH-yahn) the /you all (formal) have

Subjunctive Uses & Examples

Expressing Wishes

When talking about wishes, you can start your sentences with:

  • Espero que (I hope)
  • Ojalá (Hopefully/I hope)

Tania couldn't go to Lorena's party because she had to get on a plane to Guatemala. When she arrives, she gets this message:

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