Do your kids have trouble differencing between “ahí”, “hay” and “ay” in the Spanish language? That’s okay! It’s understandable, because they sound almost the same way! And the writing it’s also very similar. So, it can be confusing for them to hear a similar sound in different situations and not know what it truly means and how to use it. We’re going to be honest, sometimes Spanish native speakers also confuse these words.

If it’s difficult for native speakers, it’s even harder for Spanish as a second language students. This is because there are sounds in Spanish that their mother tongue may not have, so they are just getting their ears accustomed to these new sounds. But it is important for all children to know the differences, because these Spanish words are used on a daily basis.

Do not panic, though! Here’s TruFluency Kids’ guide to understand “ahí”, “hay” and “ay”.


“Ahí” is an adverb of place. This means it works to say where something is located. It’s like saying “there”.

You might notice that this word has an accent in the letter “i”. That indicates that you must pronounce that “i” stronger. According to the Span¡shD!ctionary it sounds like: “ah-ee”. Now, try saying it out loud.

Some examples:

  • ¡Mira, ahí está la nueva dulcería! (Look, there is the new candy shop!)
  • ¡Ahí está mi perrito! (There’s my dog!)
  • ¿En dónde está tu mamá? / Ahí. (Where’s your mom? / There.)
  • Ahí van a construir una escuela. (They’re going to build a school there.)
  • ¿En dónde está mi perrito? / Ahí, nadando en la alberca. (Where’s my doggy? / There, swimming in the pool.)


“Hay” comes from the verb “haber” (to have). It’s like saying “there is/are”.

This word is written with “h”, but the “h” in Spanish doesn’t sound. Make sure your kids know this; otherwise, they might pronounce the “h” like in “house” and that would be wrong. According to the Span¡shD!ctionary “hay” sounds like: “ay”. Yes, just like the other Spanish word “ay”, hence the confusion. But if you help your children to think about the context, it’ll be easier for them to realize about which “ay” we’re talking about.

Some examples:

  • ¿Qué hay de comer? (What’s there to eat?)
  • ¡Wow! ¡Hay un montón de juguetes en esta tienda! (Wow! There are a lot of toys in this store!)
  • Hay que alzar el cuarto. (We have to raise the room.)
  • ¡Mira, hay varias ardillas en el jardín! (Look, there are many squirrels in the garden!)
  • ¿Hay algún lugar para sentarnos? (Is there any place to sit?)


This is an interjection. Yes, one of those words that are written between exclamation points and express some sort of intense feeling, like “oh!” or “agh!”. “¡Ay!” expresses pain, shock or surprise. It can be used in both good and bad situations, as we will see right below.

Remember that it sounds just like the word “hay”. So, if you feel confused about which of the two words is someone using, just think: Is he/she exclaiming it to express a feeling? If yes, they’re using the word “ay”.

Some examples:

  • ¡Ay!, me machuqué el dedo. (Ay! I crushed my finger.)
  • ¡Ay!, me espantaste. (Ay! You scared me.)
  • ¡Ay!, qué bonita te ves. (Ay! you look so beautiful.)
  • ¡Mamá, mi hermano me jaló el cabello! / ¡Ay!, eso no es cierto. (Mom, my brother pulled my hair! / Ay! That’s not true.)
  • ¡Ay, wow! ¡Me encantó! (Ay, wow! I loved it!)

Practice with These Sentences

There is a popular sentence that has these three words: “Ahí hay un hombre que dice ¡ay!”. We leave you with four more sentences like this one, so kids can see the differences between each word more clearly.

  • ¡Ay!, ahí hay un monstruo horrible. (Ay, there is a horrible monster there).
  • Ahí donde hay una banca está un niño gritando ¡ay!, porque se cayó de la bicicleta. (There where there is a bench is a kid screaming ¡ay!, because he fell off the bicycle).
  • ¡Ay, mira qué bonito! Hay muchas mariposas ahí en el parque. (Ay, look how beautiful! There are many butterflies there in the park.)
  • ¡Ay, wow! Hay muchos regalos justo ahí debajo del árbol de Navidad. (Ay, wow! There are many gifts right there under the Christmas tree).

How to Help Your Kids Learn Ay, Hay and Ahí

If you’re a Hispanic parent, then speak in Spanish to your children. You’d be surprised how many parents don’t speak in their mother tongue to their kids and, therefore, they never learn it. “Ay”, “hay” and “ahí” are popular words Spanish speakers use all the time. So, you won’t even have to think about using them, you’ll do it naturally while speaking about any topic.

Help them understand this lesson by acting out the “ahí”, “hay” and “ay” words or making them part of their lives. For example: When you’re explaining the “ay”, you can act as if you hit your little finger and you say “ay” out loud.

When you’re teaching the “hay” and “ahí”, point out something. Like: “Hay mucha comida en el refrigerador” (there’s a lot of food in the refrigerator) and point out the food in there. Or say: “ahí están tus juguetes” (there are your toys) while pointing to their toys.

Use the sentences above to help them understand the lesson. Since they combine the three words, it’ll be easier for kids to notice the differences.

Specifically for the word “hay”, we have a fun video lesson with one of our teachers, maestro Neftalí. Check it out.

Want More? Discover the Perfect Way for Kids to Truly Learn These Spanish Words

We have one last way to help your kids learn these important Spanish words and more. And we’re not going to lie, we believe this will bring you the best results. Enroll them into TruFluency Kids Spanish immersion classes! You might think we’re a bit biased because we’re telling you about our own school, but here us out.

We know how energetic children are. That’s why our lessons are pure fun, because that’s the best way for kids to learn a new language. We will make them learn through singing, crafting, playing games, cooking and more fun activities.

We also have native teachers, so your kids can truly learn things that will be useful for a real-life situation. All the things taught are actually used by native Spanish speakers. Plus, our focus is on speaking. This means, students are encouraged to speak in Spanish in every lesson. We’re looking for them to achieve language fluency. So, don’t be surprised if soon you see your kids talking very naturally to a Hispanic friend.

Oh and we also think of parents’ busy agendas. Our classes are completely online and we have flexible schedules. So your kids can study with us from anywhere, at the time that’s more convenient for you all.

But hey, you don’t have to believe us. Check our testimonials and take a trial class. Then, enroll your kids for our next four-week session. ¡Ay, qué divertido es aprender Español con TruFluency Kids!