When do you use tener in Spanish?

How do you use tener in Spanish?

tener in spanish
Let’s find out when do you use the verb tener in Spanish.

There are many idiomatic expressions that use the verb “tener”.



“tener ___ años”

Incorrect:  (to have _____ years)

Correct: (to be _____ years old)


“tener frío”

Incorrect:  (to have cold)


Correct:  to be cold


“tener calor”

Incorrect:  (to have hot)

Correct:  to be hot


“tener hambre”

Incorrect:  (to have hungry)

Correct:  to be hungry


“tener sed”

Incorrect:  (to have thirsty)

Correct: to be thirsty


“tener sueño”

Incorrect:  (to have sleepy)

Correct:  to be sleepy


Note: There are also many idiomatic expressions with
“tener” that express sensations more psychological in nature:


“tener prisa”

Correct: to be in a hurry


“tener miedo a/de + noun”

Correct: to be afraid of something


“tener miedo a/de + infinitive”

Correct: to be afraid to do something


“tener celos”

Correct: to be jealous


“tener confianza”

Correct: to be confident


“tener cuidado”

Correct: to be careful


“tener vergüenza”

Correct:  to be ashamed


There are other idiomatic expressions with “tener” as well:

“tener razón”

Correct: to be right


“tener éxito”

Correct: to be successful


“tener la culpa”

Correct: to be guilty


“tener suerte”

Correct: to be lucky


“tener lugar”

Correct: to take place


“tener ganas de”

Correct: to feel like


“tener en cuenta”

Correct: to take into account


Note: When using these idiomatic expressions, conjugate the verb “tener” according to the subject of the sentence.


Nosotros tenemos  cinco años. – We are five years old
Tú tienes ocho años.- You are eight years old
Ellos tienen dos años.-They are two years old

Note: Because the expressions with “tener” use nouns, they are modified with adjectives, not adverbs.


Tengo frío. (I am cold)

mucho frío.(I am very cold)

Incorrect: (Tengo muy frío)


Tengo suerte (I am lucky)

mucha suerte. (I am very lucky)

Incorrect: (Tengo muy suerte)


Tengo hambre (I am hungry)

mucha hambre. (I am very hungry)

Incorrect: (Tengo muy hambre)

Red more about the Spanish grammar

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