The Verb “haver” means “to exist“, but in actual fact, it means much more. Do you know how to use the verb “há“?
Everybody has seen the sign “Há Caracóis” 🐌do they really know what it means?
If you are Learning Portuguese then you will have come across this tiny word many times. Maybe you didn’t even notice it.
Okay then, so “Há” is not actually the infinitive of the verb – “haver” is. However, the good news is, that this verb is that it is very easy to use!
Let’s take a look at four common uses of “haver” in Portuguese:
Although “haver” technically means “to exist,” in English we translate it as “there is” or “there are”.
In fact, one of the great things about this verb: we don’t really need to conjugate it! We only use the 3rd person singular: “Há” (the ‘H’ is silent).
“Há uma pessoa na rua” – There is a (one) person on the street.
If we want to say there is more than one person on the street we would say:
“Há muitas pessoas na rua” – There are many people on the street.
Note how “Há” remains the same for singular and plural nouns, unlike other verbs we have seen.
Há um carro na rua – there is a car on the street
Há muitos carros na rua – there are many cars on the street
Há um cão no parque – there is a dog in the park
Há muitos cães no parque – there are many dogs in the park
Há? – as a question means “is there?” or “are there?” Word order will not change. (This just gets easier and easier!) Let’s compare the phrases with statements.
Há pão – There is bread (statement)
Há pão? – Is there any bread? (question)
Há muita gente lá fora – There are a lot of people outside (statement)
Há muita gente lá fora? – Are there a lot of people outside? (question)
We can use it when we are looking for something or enquiring about availability.
Question: Há um banco aqui perto? – Is there a bank near here?
Answer: Há um banco perto da farmácia. – There is a bank near the chemist
You can substitute ‘um banco’ with anything else you seek: uma farmácia, um supermercado, um restaurante. Try it! Just remember to make a questions sound like a questions by raising your tone at the end of the sentence, as the word order does not change.
Answering questions is pretty easy too! It really is, take a look!
Question: Há pão? – Is there any bread?
Answer: Há – there is (affirmative)
Answer: Não há – there is not (negative)
Note that the word “sim” – “yes” is not used that much for short answers when they are affirmative, but instead we repeat the verb.
4.Enquiring about time lapsed.
How would you ask somebody how long the have been in Portugal?
Although it may seem like a strange combination of words, this is actually a very easy combination to remember.
Question: Há quanto tempo está em Portugal? – How long have you been in Portugal? (Lit. There is how much time you are in Portugal?)
Answer: Estou em Portugal há sete anos – I have been in Portugal for seven years (Lit. I am in Portugal there are seven years)
Easy answer: Há sete anos – For seven years
Question: Há quanto tempo mora em Lagos? – How long have you lived in Lagos?
Answer: Moro em Lagos há dois meses – I have lived in Lagos for 2 months)
Easy answer: Há dois meses
Question: Há quanto tempo está aqui? – How long have you been here?
answer: Há dois anos / meses
Try saying how long you have been in Portugal or in the town you are living in.
So what does “Há Caracóis” mean?
In its simplest form, this statement is it telling people that “there are snails for sale“. A snail sale. 🐌
Há caracóis – There are snails (kind of like we have snails) I am not a fan of snails myself 🙂
Overall, “haver” is a versatile little verb with multiple meanings in Portuguese. Try it out for yourself! But don’t get it confused with the verb to have. It doesn’t mean quite the same. Leave your comments below!
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