Useful everyday expressions using “Tener”

“Tener” (to have) is perhaps one of the most useful verbs to know in Spanish because apart from being used to express possession, it has many other everyday uses. In this post we will look at some of the most common idiomatic expressions using “tener”. (Idiomatic expressions are just phrases that cannot be understood by translating literally.)

To express age:

Expression: Tener … años.
Literal meaning: To have … years.
True meaning: To be … years old.

To express a physical state:

Tener hambre. To be hungry.
Tener sed. To be thirsty.
Tener frío. To be cold.
Tener calor. To be hot.
Tener sueño. To be sleepy.
Tener dolor. To have a pain/be hurting something.

To express psychological states:

Tener celos. To be jealous.
Tener confianza. To be confident.
Tener cuidado. To be careful.
Tener miedo. To be scared.
Tener prisa. To be in a hurry.
Tener vergüenza. To be ashamed.

Other common expressions:

Tener razón. To be right.
Tener éxito. To be successful.
Tener lugar. To take place.
Tener suerte. To be lucky.
Tener en cuenta. To take into account.
Tener ganas de. To feel like.

Remember to conjugate the verb “Tener” according to the subject; I, you, he/she, we, you (plural), they.
e.g. ¿Tienes hambre? Are you hungry?
Sí, tengo mucha hambre. Yes, I am very hungry.

Tengo (I)
Tienes (You)
Tiene (He/She)
Tenemos (We)
Tenéis (You – plural – use when talking to 2 or more people)
Tienen (They)

Good luck and try to use some “tener” expressions next time you are practising your Spanish with someone as they are so easy to use in everyday conversation! Check out other common grammar tips from the Spanish Grammar help section on the blog page.

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