Tener – “To Have” Tener



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Tener – “To Have”


Tener is an irregular verb which means "to have", but it is also used to form certain expressions such as "tengo que lavar la ropa", and certain conditions "tienes hambre, tiene sed, tengo calor" etc.

It has both an irregular spelling in the “yo” form and in the stem.



This chart shows how to conjugate tener

Person

Pronoun

Verbo Tener

Singular

Presente

Preterite

Imperfect

1st

yo

tengo

tuve

tenia

2nd

tu

tienes

tuviste

tenias

3rd

el – ella - usted

tiene

tuvo

tenis




Plural










1st

nosotros

tenemos

tuvimos

teníamos

2nd

vosotros

tenéis

tuvisteis

teníais

3rd

ellos – ellas - ustedes

tienen

tuvieron

tenían


Examples of the use of the verb “tener”

  • Tengo tres libros I have three books

  • Tienes una familia muy unida You have a very close-knit family.

  • Tengo dolor dolor de cabeza I have a headache.


Tener expressions

In English we say that we are hungry or we are hot, using a form of "to Be".  In Spanish, if you used a form of Ser with one of these descriptions, you would be saying something entirely different.


For example:

  • To say "I am hot", we use tener, not “ser or estar”

  • Tengo calor – literally means "I have heat"

If you made the mistake of saying Yo soy calor or yo estoy calor, you would be saying something like, "I am the incarnation of the abstract concept of Heat."  This is probably not what you intended to say unless you were in a play involving the elements. 

Some other “tener” expressions include:

Tener calor

to be hot

Tener cuidado

to be careful

Tener  éxito

to be successful

Tener frío

to be cold

Tener ganas de

To feel like..., to have the desire to...

Tener hambre

to be hungry

Tener interés

to be interested

Tener miedo

to be afraid

Tener sed

to be thirsty

Tener sueño

to be sleepy

Tener prisa

to be in a hurry

Tener razón

to be right (correct)

Tener dolor

to be hurting

  • Another way we use tener is to express that we "have to" do something.

  • The expression is constructed with tener + que + infinitive for of a verb:

    • Tengo que estudiar esta mañana I have to study this morning.

    • Tienes que practicar tenis hoy You have to practice tenis today.

    • Tenemos que hablar. We have to speak.

    • Tienen que ir al hospital They have to go to the hospital.

    • Ustedes tienen que leer el drama You have to read the play.

  • We also use tener  to express age:

    • Tengo veintiún años I'm twenty-one (years old).

    • Tiene quince años He's fifteen.




  • We use tener to indicate hurting:

    • Tengo un dolor de espalda I have a back ache.

    • Tengo un dolor de estómago I have a stomach ache.

Repaso con “tener” – Review with “tener”

Draw a line from the phrase in Spanish to the English translation

¿Cuántos años tienes? I have cold hands.

Tenemos razón. I am afraid to sing.

Usted tiene cuidado con la bicicleta. We are not hungry.

Tengo las manos frías. I am hot.

¿Tienes miedo a los perros? You are wrong.

Tengo mucho sueño How old are you?

No tienes razón. Are you afraid of dogs?

Tengo calor. I am very tired.

Tengo miedo de cantar. You are careful with the bicycle.



No tenemos hambre. We are right.
Write the phrases in Spanish.

  1. José has two cars.

_____________________________________________________________________


  1. I have a cold.

_____________________________________________________________________


  1. I have fear of the dark.

_____________________________________________________________________


  1. I am afraid to fly.

_____________________________________________________________________


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