I would like to introduce today an orthography topic, which is a very difficult issue for many Spanish students: “ahí”, “hay”, “ay”.
If you know what we are talking about, keep reading and find out the trick that will make you never mix them up again. It is about a very easy sentence: Ahí hay un hombre que dice: “¡Ay!”. What is that? It means There, there is a man saying “ouch!”.
Now we’re going to see what does every of these words mean.
To start with, “ahí” is a time adverb. It is usually learnt at the same time that “aquí” and “allí”. They talk about the proximity, both in time and space, of the action or the object we’re talking about. “Aquí” implies proximity, “ahí” indicates that something is a bit far, and “allí” talks about big distances.
If we keep going with the sentence, we find “hay”. This is one of the most frequent forms of the verb “haber”, that is, there is/there are. Is Spanish, we don’t make the difference among singular and plural as English does (finally, something that is easier in Spanish than in English!). An example of this could be the next sentence: En la foto hay un árbol y hay muchas flores.
Finally, we have “¡ay!”. This is an interjection, I mean, a word expressing the speaker’s feeling. In this case, the speaker is complaining because something hurts. It is the equivalent to English “ouch!”. Another example of this kind of words could be “¡uf!”, whose English translation is “phew!”.
Now that we’ve seen what’s the meaning of each word, we can already read the sentence Ahí hay un hombre que dice: “¡Ay!” and identify the different meanings of these homophones (words that sound like other words but mean different things).
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