The Spanish verb Hay que is less commonly used than Deber or Tener que, but you will still hear it a lot and it is a very useful verb to learn. As with Deber and Tener que, Hay que is used to express obligation and responsibility and is even easier to use!
The main difference between Hay que and Deber and Tener que is that we use Hay que when there is no clear subject (person doing the action), when the action can apply to anyone. Hay que is used to express a general, impersonal ideal that it is necessary to do something.
Spanish verb Hay que (One has to)
Because Hay que applies in general to anyone and has no subject, we do not conjugate this verb for all persons as we have with Deber and Tener que. It is therefore extremely easy to use!
Here’s how to use Hay que (One has to):
Hay que + infinitivo: One has to + infinitive
Example sentences with the Spanish verb Hay que:
Hay que probar la paella: One has to try the paella
Hay que visitar Galicia: One has to visit Galicia
Hay que reciclar: One has to recycle
Hay que comer un poco de todo: One has to eat a bit of everything
Hay que beber ocho vasos de agua al día: One has to drink eight glasses of water a day
Hay que lavarse los dientes tres veces al día: One has to brush ones teeth three times a day
Hay que ser generoso: One has to be generous
Hay que decir “por favor” y “gracias”: One has to say “please” and “thank you”
Example conversation using Hay que
Next let’s see a typical conversation in Spanish using Hay que:
Hola Felipe. ¿Todavía compras botellas de agua de plástico?: Hi Felipe. Do you still buy plastic bottles of water?
Hola Carlos. Sí, hay que beber agua. Voy a entrenar ahora en el gimnasio. Mi entrenador me dice que hay que beber cuatro litros de agua al día: Hi Carlos. Yes, one has to drink water. I am going to train now in the gym. My trainer tells me that one has to drink four litres of water a day.
¿Pero hay que beber cuatro litros de agua al día? Me parece mucho. Pero estoy de acuerdo en que hay que beber agua. Lo que no me parece bien es beber agua de botella de plástico: But one has to drink four litres of water a day? It seems a lot to me. But I agree that one has to drink water. What I don’t agree with is drinking water from a plastic bottle.
¿Qué le pasa a mi botella? What is wrong with my bottle?
¿No lo sabes? ¡No hay que comprar cosas de plástico!: Don’t you know? One mustn’t buy things made of plastic!
¡Qué dices! Casi todas las cosas son de plástico hoy en día: What are you talking about! Nearly everything is made of plastic these days.
Ya lo sé. Pero está mal. Hacemos muchas cosas cada día que no hay que hacer: I know it. But it’s wrong. We do many things every day that one shouldn’t do.
¿Qué hay que hacer entonces? What should one do then?
¿Con el agua? With the water?
Sí, con mi agua. Necesito beber agua: Yes, with my water. I need to drink water.
Lleva tu agua en una botella de cristal o de metal: Take your water in a glass or metal bottle.
No tengo tiempo para estar pensando en eso: I don’t have time to be thinking about that.
Nuestra tierra y nuestros mares están llenos de plástico. Hay que dejar de usar plástico: Our land and seas are full of plastic. One has to stop using plastic.
No hay que preocuparse tanto: One doesn’t have to worry so much.
We hope you found this lesson useful. Hay que is another very handy Spanish verb to learn. As you have seen, it is incredibly simple to use. We just have to know lots of Spanish verbs in infinitive. Hopefully by now you will be building a good repertoire of Spanish verbs.
However, if you feel like you are lacking verbs, we strongly recommend working on building your vocabulary by trying to learn five new verbs every day.