Also, in English, I think there is a shade of difference in meaning between There was a lot of conflict and There were a lot of conflicts. If what is being discussed is a single contentious issue then it may cause a lot of conflict (singular) - conflicts would be incorrect. Multiple contentious issues may cause a lot of conflicts (plural). To my mind, the Duo sentence indicates a single issue causing the conflict.
but it is also the past tense of the "personal" haber isn't it? ie it/he/she "had"... or is this haber only used in the "past participle" sense ie hubo hablado...? Is "tener" ( or tuvo in this case) what would have been used if the sentence was meant to say " he had a lot of conflict(s)"? Thanks.
jjcthorpe- I think you asked a brilliant question because when you check verb conjugation tables you will see hubo as 3rd person singular preterite indicative. I don't know why its shown like that. Anyone?
But I did find a reference that helps a bit
HABER is used in two ways:
To express the existence of something
(As an auxiliary verb + past participle to form the “Perfect Tense” - not discussed here
To start, the verb HABER is used as existence; it has only one conjugation in all the tenses.
In present tense is: HAY + noun. It doesn´t matter if it’s singular or plural.
HAY - There is
HAY - There are
Simple Past Tense
HUBO - There was
HUBO - There were
HABIA – There was
HABIA - There were
HABRA - There will be
HABRIA – There would be
"He had" would be "Él tenía mucho conflicto." or "Tenía mucho conflicto." if he had already been understood as the person being talked about. "hubo" is not used for "he had", but only for "There was" or "There were". http://www.reverso.net/translationresults.aspx?lang=ENdirection=english-spanish http://context.reverso.net/translation/english-spanish/He+had+a+lot+of+conflict.
'Conflict' can be thought of as an uncountable noun in this sentence. Think of it like the word "activity".
In a countable sense:
There were many conflicts. There were many activities.
There were a lot of conflicts. There were a lot of activities.
In an uncountable sense:
There was much conflict. There was much activity.
There was a lot of conflict. There was a lot of activity.
It's a little confusing because "a lot of" can be used for either countable or non-countable nouns. But it can be correct either way, depending on the context.
Writchie, well explained. NB: Notice 'there was' and 'there were'. In Spanish both these situations would be translated with the 3rd person singular: hubo, había - even if what follows is plural. More grammar than you counted on. Oops, just noticed that rmcgwn already explained this very well above.
Someone on DL previously gave the following explanation, which is pretty good: "The easiest way to explain it is that "hubo" is an event at a point in time and "había" is like a general description of things. The preterite version "hubo" implies that whatever "was" there no longer is, while "había" doesn't specify. Había una mujer - There was a woman. Hubo una mujer - There was a woman (now there's not)."