Haber Verb Conjugation in Spanish

Haber is one of the most common verbs in Spanish, but, it also happens to have a rather peculiar behavior. There are basically two ways in which haber can act:

There were cookies in the jar. There were cookies in the jar.
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Haber as an Auxiliary Verb

Just like the English verb "to have,” haber functions as an auxiliary verb for perfect tenses. When working in this way, it will follow the conjugation patterns indicated in the tables below.

Other Uses of Haber

That said, haber can also work as a verb on its own. When it does so, it is usually equivalent to the English expression "there is.” When followed by que and an infinitive, it can also mean that it is necessary to do something.

When taking on any of these meanings, haber uses a different conjugation pattern, and it is conjugated in its impersonal form. With the exception of the Present, which has a specific impersonal form, this means the verb is used in the third person singular:

  • Present: Hay
    Hay un pelo en mi sopa.
    - There's a hair in my soup.
  • Imperfect: Había
    Había galletas en el tarro.
    - There were cookies in the jar.
  • Preterite: Hubo
    Hubo mucha gente que no entendió.
    - There were a lot of people who didn't get it.
  • Future: Habrá
    Habrá una fiesta el domingo. - There will be a party on Sunday.
  • Conditional: Habría
    Pensé que habría más gente.
    - I thought there would be more people.

You might hear native speakers sometimes use the third person plural (for example, hubieron instead of hubo) but, even though it is gaining ground, this is considered to be grammatically wrong.

Conjugations

As is to be expected with many common Spanish verbs, the conjugation pattern of haber is irregular. Take a look at the following tables and examples to learn how to use it.

Keep in mind that these forms apply to the use of haber as an auxiliary verb. When using it with other meanings, you will have to use its impersonal form (third person singular other than in the present tense).

Present

Yo

he

Nosotros/Nosotras

hemos

Tú/Vos

has

Vosotros/Vosotras

habéis

Él/Ella/Usted

ha

Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes

han

Impersonal

hay

Examples:

  • He llegado. - I have arrived.
  • Hay muchos estudiantes. - There are a lot of students.

Imperfect

Yo

había

Nosotros/Nosotras

habíamos

Tú/Vos

habías

Vosotros/Vosotras

habíais

Él/Ella/Usted

había

Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes

habían

Examples:

  • No te había visto. - I hadn't seen you.
  • En mi casa siempre había mucha comida. - In my house, there was always a lot of food.

Preterite

Yo

hube

Nosotros/Nosotras

hubimos

Tú/Vos

hubiste

Vosotros/Vosotras

hubisteis

Él/Ella/Usted

hubo

Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes

hubieron

Examples:

  • Ni bien hubo comido, se fue. - No sooner than he had eaten, he left.
    (This tense is not commonly used in everyday Spanish.)
  • Hubo un problema con la computadora. - There was a problem with the computer.
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Future

Yo

habré

Nosotros/Nosotras

habremos

Tú/Vos

habrás

Vosotros/Vosotras

habréis

Él/Ella/Usted

habrá

Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes

habrán


Examples:

  • Para cuando llegues, Lucía ya se habrá ido. - Lucía will have left by the time you get there.
  • Habrá que limpiar la cocina. - The kitchen will have to be cleaned.

Conditional

Yo

habría

Nosotros/Nosotras

habríamos

Tú/Vos

habrías

Vosotros/Vosotras

habríais

Él/Ella/Usted

habría

Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes

habrían

Examples:

  • Habríamos venido, si lo hubieses pedido. - We would have come, if you had asked.
  • Pensé que habría alguien en la puerta. - I thought there would be someone at the door.

Haber is one of the most useful verbs you will learn, as you will need it to use all the perfect tenses in Spanish. For that reason, make sure you practice its use until it becomes second nature!