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I am learning Spanish with Collins Easy Learning Spanish.

It gives the following example:

The stairs are over there, to your right. = La escalera está allí, a su derecha.

There’s a tourist office over there. = Hay una oficina de turismo allí.

Why does only one example use está to indicate direction? Is there a rule that applies to using está for direction?

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As a rule of thumb, consider the following:

  • When there is points to something you were already talking about (i.e. you would use the determinate article the), it is está because you were only missing its location.

  • On the other hand, when there is refers to something that is either completely new or just being specified (i.e. you would use a), it is hay because you are reporting its existence/presence as well.

Compare DRAE's definition for estar, meaning 3 and haber, meanings 8&9

Unfortunately, the difference between presence and location may become subtle and fuzzy at times.

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There are no rules. "Está" is the verb "estar" that in your first example is the "are there" (verb to be) part.

In your second example the same verb "to be" in "There is" is translated to "Hay" (verbo haber).

I think the translation of a single English verb "to be" into two different Spanish verbs "ser" and "estar" is one of the most difficult things to learn, but you will get it with time and practice.

To further give you tools to understand this sentences let me point out that you could translate the second sentence like:

La oficina de turismo está allí

in the same way that you could've said that in English like "The tourist office is over there". Notice the placement of "is" in this case.

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  • ¿? There certainly are rules, whether most truly bilingual speakers are able to articulate them or not. – Michael Wolf May 20 '16 at 21:21
  • @MichaelWolf obviously there are grammar rules, but there is no rule as when to use the word "está" since in many cases can be changed for forms of the verbs "ser" or "haber". If you think otherwise please state the rule on a new answer. If there is a rule I'd like to learn about it. – DGaleano May 20 '16 at 22:46

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