I was just in Albuquerque, New Mexico and riding a local bus. The door had a sign saying (in English and Spanish)

Wait for Light Then Open Door

Espere la Señal, Luego Habra la Puerta.

Aside from the comma missing in the English text, I am confused about the use of Haber instead of Abrir in the Spanish text. To me it seems to say Then there will be the door (except that then technically it should be habrá).

Is this a mis-translation? Or a use of Haber that I am not familiar with? Or perhaps a regional usage of Haber?

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  • 2
    It is a typo and should be abra, as DGaleano pointed in his answer. However... I am tempted to add the religion tag and read the sentence in a philosophical way, as if God was about to show us the door to heaven :)
    – fedorqui
    Jul 31, 2018 at 6:37
  • 1
    in that case it should be "habrá" and not "habra"
    – Mike
    Jul 31, 2018 at 16:08

2 Answers 2


You are right. "Habrá" means "there will be"

The sign is wrong. The word should be "Abrir"

Also the use of the capitals is incorrect.

Correct alternatives would be:

Espere la señal luminosa, luego abra la puerta.

Espere (por) la luz y abra la puerta.

Espere que la luz se encienda y abra la puerta.

In any case the correct word is abra

  • 1
    So it is likely that Habra is then a typo from Abra
    – Peter M
    Jul 30, 2018 at 18:51
  • This kind of typo happens to a lot of native-spanish-speaking people, I can't imagine a non-native not getting it wrong too Jul 30, 2018 at 18:53
  • @fernando.reyes given that this was in NM its possible that it was created by a native speaker. Either way the mistake is immortalized on every bus.
    – Peter M
    Jul 30, 2018 at 18:56
  • @PeterM It is definitely a typo.
    – DGaleano
    Jul 30, 2018 at 18:57
  • 1
    @fernando.reyes Sorry but I disagree. This does not happen a lot. This happens to uneducated people that barely can write or to a non native speaker that is still learning. I personally don't consider this to be a minor mistake. The verb "haber" is a difficult one but the verb "abrir" is one of the easiest.
    – DGaleano
    Jul 30, 2018 at 18:59

What was meant was

Abra (formal imperative for abrir, to open)

Confusion about which words take a silent H and which don't is extremely common among Mexicans, Mexican Americans and Chicanos. If someone has a little trouble with this aspect of spelling, by no means can we assume the person is ignorant, stupid or uneducated.

There is a certain charm in this sign. It is written in a natural way, and reads like it was designed by someone bilingual. A scenario that suggests itself is that the person who wrote it works at the bus company, was raised speaking Spanish at home and some other settings, but had formal schooling primarily or entirely in English.

A native speaker of Spanish will imagine the sound of the word and parse it accordingly. Learners of Spanish understandably lean more on the written letters to figure things out, and might find it confusing.

Regarding the capitalization: In English it's normal to use title case for signs; it's only natural that a bilingual sign carry that over to the Spanish. See https://ux.stackexchange.com/a/28299/69183 (regarding headings and instructions in websites: "Title case propagates in Spanish pages because it's easier to write and because of the influence of the USA sites").

  • Title case is dialect specific in English. To me as a speaker of the dialect of south east England the original English text looks clumsy and odd.
    – mdewey
    Jul 31, 2018 at 9:49
  • @mdewey - The signs in your buses would probably look quaint and foreign to visitors from Arizona. That's what's so fun about languages spoken in more than one country, no? Jul 31, 2018 at 14:17

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