Updated: Apr 14, 2020
The irregular verb tener is one of the most difficult Spanish verbs to conjugate and to use correctly. The everyday Spanish verb tener, usually translated as "to have," is particularly useful. Not only is it used to indicate possession, it is also used in a variety of idiomatic expressions to indicate emotions or states of being.
Note that when tener means "to have," it does so in the sense of meaning "to possess" or "to own." The equivalent of the English auxiliary verb "to have," as in "you have seen," is haber (as in has visto, you have seen).
Using Tener To Mean "To Have"
Most of the time, tener is used in much the same way as "to have" is in English. Depending on the context, it can also be translated using synonyms such as "to possess" and "to own":
Let's see some example.
Conjugating the Irregular Spanish Verb Tener (to Have)
Like many other commonly used verbs, tener is irregular. The ending er changes to go in the (yo) form (first person singular). Also, e changes to ie in the tú, Ud., and Uds. forms of the verb. Here’s the present tense conjugation:
Now let’s see a few example sentences using the verb tener in the present tense:
- to express sensation
- to indicate possession
- to indicate obligation
- to express age
- to express a desire to do something
Listening Activity No. 1: Expressing necessity in Spanish + the verb Tener (to have)
In this video you will learn how to express necessity in Spanish. First of all Ricardo will show you the conjugation of the verb Tener (to have). And after he will provide you with some examples of necessity. You can also visit the use of the verb Tener to express obligation here. Take notes of the information you consider important and listen carefully to identify the phrases presented above plus a few new ones. Press PLAY when you are ready.
Free Student Handout Activity No. 2: Test yourself
Download this free handout and start practicing today. Click the blue button below to DOWNLOAD the free handout. Add your name and email and we’ll send it to you! Remember you can contact your tutor with any question have. Don’t you have a Spanish tutor yet? Please, leave a message if you want we prepare more activities about this topic. Thanks for helping us to improve.
Want to learn more phrases that use the verb tener?
Book a free trial class with one of our amazing teachers or you can consider becoming a part of The Español Latino Facebook Group. It will allow you to access literally hundreds of lesson plans, videos, and also chat more about Spanish with other Spanish teachers and students.
¡Hasta la vista!
The Español Latino Team