Is there?/ Are there?: Spanish Grammar for beginners- ¿HAY?

                  “Is there a doctor in the house?”

This expression comes from the theatrical world and would be announced to an audience in a theatre, (the audience was often referred to as ‘the house’) if a doctor was required to aid a member of the cast suddenly overcome by a medical emergency….

Theatre_Royal_Drury_Lane_1813
Is there a doctor in the house? (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London 1813)

But give me a moment and I’ll explain why this expression just popped into my head, as I embark on another post dealing with Spanish for Beginners.

After a fabulous week’s cruise around the Spanish Canary Islands, we were flying back to Málaga on mainland Spain. This was an internal flight on the Spanish airline Iberia and so all announcements were in Spanish.

Nervous flyer

I’m a bit of a nervous flyer and I like  to keep my eyes firmly trained on the cabin staff trying to catch any sense of emotion or worry in their facial expression.  (You know that expression they all have  with their fixed, fake, over-the-top smile  trying to transmit “everything’s fine” and “Isn’t flying great?” and”what a happy time we’re all having up here!”)

d-adhc_-_air_hostesses_serving_snacks
Watching their facial expressions closely! Photo Credit
domodedovo_img_2593_28806217855329
Responsible job! Photo Credit
So all was going well, or so I thought but then I noticed a sudden change of expression.

I thought the worse and went into panic mode as I saw two cabin stewards looking extremely concerned and whispering to each other. One of them walked up to the microphone to make an announcement to the cabin over the loud-speaker system…and asked an important question:

¿ Hay un médico en el avión? 

Is there a doctor on the plane? 

pilatus_pc-12-452c_royal_flying_doctor_service_an0636290
Flying doctor? Photo Credit
Which brings me to the point of all of this.

When I was starting out  learning Spanish and wanted to say “Is there…a chemist near here”, I first fixed my mind  on the word “IS” and tried to translate that, and then went for “THERE”, and tried translating that… without seeing “IS THERE” as an expression in itself.

                       Don’t make my same mistake.

If you’ve seen my previous posts on this nifty little word HAY,  then you will have seen that THERE IS and THERE ARE = HAY in Spanish.

                       So much easier in Spanish

The great thing, and this is why this is so cool, is that to make a question using this expression in English, IS THERE? and ARE THERE? we switch the words around, starting the expression with IS or ARE….

BUT SPANISH IS SO MUCH EASIER THAN ALL OF THAT

You have to admit that THERE’S NOT MUCH SWITCHING AROUND TO BE DONE WITH ONE WORD: HAY !

The point is so simple that it can actually become a bit tricky for native English speakers.

All you need to make a question, in Spanish, is a questioning lilt in your voice. That has to be easy, right? (notice my questioning lilt when I wrote “right?”)

HAY un médico en el avión = There’s a doctor on the plane

Get ready with questioning lilt…  ¿HAY un médico en el avión?

                                 ¿Upside-down?

In real life you can put a questioning lilt quite easily, but in the spoken word, to distinguish between a statement and a question in Spanish, you have to write a clue to the reader that what is coming is a question, otherwise how could they hear the questioning lilt?

The clue is the UPSIDE-DOWN question mark at the beginning of the question to warn you of a questioning lilt!    ¿…..?

How efficient is that?

¿HAY un médico en el avión?  Is there a doctor on the plane?

¿HAY una silla en la cocina?     Is there a chair in the kitchen?

¿HAY mesas en el salón?           Are there any tables in the living room?

¿HAY amigas en la fiesta?        Are there any friends at the party?

CALL TO ACTION :

Repeat these examples aloud and try to get accustomed to hearing your own voice speaking Spanish.

Then make up your very own questions, using a  good on-line dictionary like Spanish.Dict.com using ¿HAY ?

IF YOU  NEED HELP MAKING YOUR OWN SENTENCES, DROP ME A LINE IN THE COMMENTS AND I WILL HELP YOU WITH YOUR OWN SENTENCES.

               Oh, yes…   WHAT HAPPENED ON THE PLANE?

Remember the negative from a previous post, How to be negative in Spanish and a most unfortunate statement if you’re on a plane a need a doctor …

                                                   

                         NO HAY médico en el avión! 

Which is exactly what happened on the flight from Tenerife to Málaga.

A gentleman at the front of the plane had become indisposed; meaning very, very ill, and when we landed at Málaga airport, we had to wait for emergency services and a médico (doctor) to arrive and take him off first before we could disembark. Rumour had it at the time he had suffered a stroke shortly after take-off …

If he had waited for me to get this post about what the cabin steward said, he may not have made it!

I hope he was ok…

And I hope this helps!

IF YOU  NEED HELP MAKING YOUR OWN SENTENCES, DROP ME A LINE IN THE COMMENTS AND I WILL HELP YOU WITH YOUR OWN SENTENCES.

2 comments

  1. I love what you do here. You don’t only teach the language but you make it relevant. The storytelling part of it is lovely. It Adds lots of imagery to the lesson you’re teaching. And the history of the origin of the expression is a big plus. Hats of to you. Keep up the great work. Selma

    Liked by 2 people

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