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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?

  • and there is also "allí"... – Radovan Garabík Apr 3 '18 at 10:42
  • @RadovanGarabík - This one is not as easily confused, though. The pronunciation is more distinctively different. – aparente001 Apr 27 '18 at 4:39
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ahí: Used to indicate the location of something.

La pelota está 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
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    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
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    @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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    @Flimzy: As a Mexican I can say that I have the theory that people do not write this correctly because of one of three reasons: lack of education, laziness or, they just do not care about writing it properly. IMHO. – Sergio Romero May 30 '12 at 14:00

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