Pretérito imperfeito de haber

HaroldA2Kwiziq community member

Pretérito imperfeito de haber

I was marked wrong for using “habían” when the sentence was something like “habían muchos mensajes …”. If “había” is used for one thing or many things when would you use “habían”? It sounds more natural to say “habían muchos mensajes …”

Asked 1 month ago
SilviaKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hola Harold

The confusion you're experiencing is quite common among learners of Spanish, especially when dealing with the verb "haber" in the imperfect tense.

The correct form of "haber" in the imperfect tense when used as an impersonal verb to indicate the existence of something (like 'there is' or 'there are' in English) is always "había", regardless of whether the noun it refers to is singular or plural. So, the correct way to express 'there were many messages' in Spanish is "había muchos mensajes".

You might be inclined to use "habían" because it seems to agree in number with "muchos mensajes", but in this particular case, "haber" does not change to agree with the number of items. "Habían" is the plural form of "haber" in the imperfect tense, but it is only used when "haber" is an auxiliary verb in compound tenses, as in "Ellos habían comido" (They had eaten).

So, your sentence should indeed be "Había muchos mensajes…" regardless of the number of messages. Remember, when used to mean 'there is/are', "había" remains invariable.

Feliz semana

Silvia

 
 
 

Pretérito imperfeito de haber

I was marked wrong for using “habían” when the sentence was something like “habían muchos mensajes …”. If “había” is used for one thing or many things when would you use “habían”? It sounds more natural to say “habían muchos mensajes …”

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