How to use the verb 'to have' in Spanish by practising 'tener'
'Tener' in the present
Tener (to have) is used to show possession or to say what you have.
Tengo una madre y dos hermanos - I have a mum and two brothers.
¿Tienes pecas? - Do you have freckles?
Mi hermano tiene un perro negro y un conejo blanco - My brother has a black dog and a white rabbit.
Put no in front of the verb to say that you don’t have something.
- No tengo un bolígrafo azul - I don’t have a blue pen.
Use the different parts of the verb tener in the table to say what you, other people or things have or don’t have.
|tienes||you have (s)|
|tenéis||you have (pl)|
Using 'tener' for age
In Spanish you use tener to talk about your age, unlike in English which doesn’t use the verb ‘to have’ but the verb ‘to be’.
¿Cuántos años tienes? - How old are you?
Tengo doce años - I am 12 (years old).
Other uses of 'tener'
|tengo sueño||I am sleepy|
|tengo sed||I am thirsty|
|tengo hambre||I am hungry|
|tengo calor||I am hot|
|tengo frío||I am cold|
¿Tienes hambre? - Are you hungry?
No, no tengo hambre, pero tengo sed - No, I am not hungry, but I am thirsty.
Tengo frío, voy a ponerme un jersey - I am cold, I am going to put a jumper on.
Mi hermana tiene sueño - My sister is sleepy.
'Tener' in the past
To talk about the past, the imperfect tense of tener is really useful. It helps you talk about things you used to have or how old you used to be.
- Cuando tenía diez años, tenía un perro - When I was ten years old, I had a dog.
Can you use different parts of the verb tener in the imperfect to say what you, someone else or something used to have?
|tenía||I had/used to have|
|tenías||you had/used to have (s)|
|tenía||he/she/it had/used to have|
|teníamos||we had/used to have|
|teníais||you had/used to have (pl)|
|tenían||they had/used to have|
'Tener' in the future
Use tener in the immediate future to say what you are going to have or what you are going to be, if you are using tener to mean 'to be' in English.
- ¡Voy a tener una hermanita! - I am going to have a little sister.
- Vas a tener muchos amigos en el colegio nuevo - You are going to have many friends in your new school.
- Mañana va a tener hambre - Tomorrow he is going to be hungry.
- Vas a tener calor porque hace sol - You are going to be hot because it is sunny.
- Voy a tener 14 años mañana - I'm going to be_ 14 tomorrow.
Can you use different parts of the verb tener to say what you, someone else or something is going to have?
|voy a tener||I am going to have|
|vas a tener||you are going to have (s)|
|va a tener||he/she/it is going to have|
|vamos a tener||we are going to have|
|vais a tener||you are going to have (pl)|
|van a tener||they are going to have|
Have go at this activity to check your understanding of the verb 'to have'.
Find out how much you know about the verb 'to have' in Spanish with this short quiz!