Tener Expressions

In Spanish the verb “tener” is defined as “to have”, but it is used in a lot of expressions that would be translated as “to be” in English.

Tener = To have

(yo)tengo = I have
(tú)tieneses = You have
(él)tiene = He has
(ella)tiene = She has
(usted)tiene = You (formal) have
(nosotros/nosotras)tenemos = we have
(ellos/ellas)tienen = They have
(ustedes)tienen = All of you have

Examples:

¿Tienes el número de teléfono de Juan?
Do you have Juan’s telephone number?

Yo tengo tres amigos
I have three friends.

Nosotros tenemos una casa.
We have a house.

Expressions Using Tener
The following expressions use the verb “tener” to mean something other than “to have”:

  • tener + number + años = to state how old someone is

Yo tengo trece años. = I am 13 years old.

  • tener + que + verb = to have to do something

Ella tiene que estudiar. = She has to study.

  • tener ganas de = To want to do something

Juan tiene ganas de comer.= Juan wants to eat.

  • tener frío = to be cold

Yo tengo frío. = I am cold

  • tener calor = to be hot

Ellos tienen calor. = They are hot.

  • tener miedo + a/de + noun = to be afraid of something

Sara tiene miedo a las alturas = Sara is afraid of heights.

  • tener miedo + a/de + verb = To be afraid to do something

Sara tiene miedo a volar. = Sara is afraid to fly.

  • tener razón = To be right

Tú tienes razón. = You are right.

  • tener prisa = to be in a hurry

Nosotros tenemos prisa hoy. = We are in a hurry today.

  • tener sueño = to be tired

Mis hijos tienen sueño esta noche. = My kids are tired tonight.

  • tener hambre = to be hungry

Yo tengo hambre. Necesito comer algo. = I am hungry. I need to eat something.

  • tener sed = to be thirsty

Nosotros tenemos sed. We are thirsty.

  • tener cuidado = to be careful

Hay que tener mucho cuidado. = One must be very careful.

*tener celos = to be jealous

Tengo celos cuando mi novia habla con él. = I am jealous when my girlfriend talks with him.

*tener suerte = to be lucky

Ella tiene mucha suerte. = She is very lucky.



More Exercises

  • Tener Expressions Question and Answer Activity
  • Tener Expressions Word Order Exercise
  • Tener Expressions Translation Activity
  • Tener Expressions Fill in the Blanks Exercise
  • Tener Expressions Matching Activity