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Tener Expressions

How do you use tener in Spanish?

tener expressions 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)
Tengo mucho frío.(I am very cold)

Incorrect: (Tengo muy frío)


Tengo suerte (I am lucky)
Tengo mucha suerte. (I am very lucky)

Incorrect: (Tengo muy suerte)


Tengo hambre (I am hungry)
Tengo mucha hambre. (I am very hungry)

Incorrect: (Tengo muy hambre)

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