If there's a duplicate question, please point to it, but I've failed to find one.

In some cases, "hay" is used instead of "ha" (haber, third person singular). One particular case is when it's used as "there is"/"there are" ("Donde hay un lago precioso"), but are there any other cases? Are there regional aspects that affect the usage?

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The form "hay" is impersonal and invariable, and the only one that can be used to mean "there is / there are". This "haber" is equivalent to "existir":

  • Hay un lago precioso = Existe un lago precioso
  • Hay lagos preciosos = Existen lagos preciosos

The form "ha" is used when "haber" is the auxiliary of compound or perfect tenses:

  • Ha visto un lago precioso (He/She has seen a beautiful lake)

"Ha" is also used followed by "de" and infinitive in a very formal phrase denoting obligation or deduction, similar to "ought to" or "should":

  • Ha de ser el lago más precioso que haya visto (It must be the most beautiful lake I have ever seen) (Source)

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