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These are commonly misused when writing, and can be very confusing for someone that is learning Spanish. These three words have a very different meaning and they are used in a very different context.

How would you explain to a beginner what are the main differences and what would you advise to avoid misuse?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 9 down vote accepted

ahí: Used to indicate the location of something.

La pelota esta ahí.

ay: To express pain or exclamation.

Ay me duele mucho.

¡Ay qué bonito!

hay: From the verb haber.

Hay problemas muy difíciles.

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nice, and what would you advise to avoid misuse? –  isJustMe Nov 16 '11 at 17:23
2  
It's worth noting that many people (at least in Mexico) write 'hay' when they mean 'ay'. It confused me for a while. –  Flimzy Nov 16 '11 at 17:24
    
yeah, is misleading sometimes I even get confused to,I wonder why most of the people (at least in Mexico) can't get it right. –  isJustMe Nov 16 '11 at 17:30
    
@Filmzy I'm from Mexico too. I agree that even for native speakers it is difficult and in some case is written wrong, in this cases the context helps to determine what was intended to say. –  Alfredo Osorio Nov 16 '11 at 17:31
4  
@Rafael.IT maybe memorizing this sentece will help you to avoid confusion: Ahí hay un hombre que dice ¡ay! –  dusan Nov 17 '11 at 16:51

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