A2 Level. Difference between Tener QUE and HAY QUE

Updated: Apr 14


Hay Que and Tener Que are both ways to express obligation (having to do something). When you say that "you have to do something" or "something has to be done", you will need to use one of these expressions!. In this post blog you will learn the basic rules to use this expressions in Spanish through several examples and interactive quizzes. Let’s start…

Tener Que

Tener que is the phrase for "statements of necessity" that is usually learned first by students of Spanish because it is very common and doesn't require the knowledge of any verb conjugation beyond the forms of tener. Translated as "to have to," it is followed by an infinitive.


Tener que + infinitive is one way to express obligation or necessity. This expression can be translated as “someone has to do something.” Tener is conjugated according to the subject of the sentence.


Hay Que

Another phrase of necessity that is even easier to learn because it doesn't require any conjugation in the present tense is hay que, again followed by an infinitive. Hay is a form of haber, and because it is used as an impersonal verb, it doesn't change with person or thing that has a necessity.


Hay que + infinitive is used to express the idea of “one must do something” or, “it is necessary to do something.” It is a more general expression and since there is no subject, the verb form hay is always used.

These examples illustrate the contrasting uses of these two expressions:

Let's practice

Listening Activity No. 1: Difference between Tener QUE and HAY QUE

Quiz Activity No. 2: "Tener que, Hay que":

a) La embajada está lejos. ____________ que tomar un taxi.

b) No tengo carro.____________que tomar un taxi.

c) Para vivir, ____________ que comer.

d) Juan no ha comido nada por dos días. Juan ____________ que comer algo.

e) Los verbos son importantes. ____________ que aprenderlos de memoria.

f) Hay un examen el lunes. Los alumnos ____________ que aprender de memoria los verbos.

g) María solicita trabajo. Ella ____________ que llenar una solicitud de trabajo.


h) María tiene un examen el lunes. Ella ________ estudiar. i) No es fácil aprender el español. ______ practicar mucho.

Audiovisual comprehension to practice oral and written expression. No. 3: "Sola en casa".

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The Español Latino Team.

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