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Tener means "to have", but it is also used to form certain expressions ("to have to do something"), and certain conditions ("to be hungry, thirsty, hot," etc.)

Tener is both a Yo Irregular verb as well as a Stem-changing verb:



Él, ella, usted


ellos, ellas, Uds.

tengo tienes tiene tenemos tienen

Examples of Tener

Tengo tres libros I have three books
Tienes una familia muy unida You have a very close-knit family.
Tenemos la clase de música a las nueve. We have music class at nine o'clock.
Jenny y Chika tienen unas fotos de Leonardo DiCaprio Jenny y Chika have some photos of Leonardo DiCaprio.
Tengo un póster del Hombre Murciélago I have a Batman poster.

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 ] : Tengo calor [literally, "I have heat"]

If you made the mistake of saying *Yo soy 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. So review the Tener phrases and practice them until it seems natural to say them.

Common 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)
No tener razón to be wrong

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

The expression is constructed with Tener + que + infinitive:

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 con la profesora We have to speak with the professor.
Tienen que ir al hospital They have to go to the hospital.
Ustedes tienen que leer el drama You (all) have to read the play.

We also use Tener to express that we "really feel like" doing something or have the desire to do something.

The expression is constructed with Tener ganas + de + infinitive:

Tengo ganas de estudiar esta mañana. I seriously have a passion to study this morning.
Tienes ganas de jugar al tenis hoy. You really want to play tenis today.
Tenemos ganas de bailar. We really feel like dancing.
Tienen ganas de ir al hospital para visitar a su primo. They really want to go to the hospital to visit their cousin.
Ustedes tienen ganas de asistir al drama. You all really have a desire to attend this play.

And of course, we use Tener to express age:

Tengo veintiún años I'm twenty-one (years old).
Tiene quince años He's fifteen (years old).
Nosotros dos tenemos veinticinco años We're both twenty five years old.

Don't forget we must use the whole phrase - don't drop the word años.

Remember there is a SERIOUS difference between the word año and ano .