6 ways to use tener in Spanish

6 ways to use TENER (to have) in Spanish

In Today’s lesson you will learn 6 ways to use TENER (to have) in Spanish. This verb is important in Spanish, not only because it is such a basic and often-used verb, but because of its many uses. You will also learn the conjugation and You will practice with interactive activities. Happy learning!

6 Ways to use the verb TENER (to have) in Spanish

1. “Tener” to speak about age, edad

In English, we use the verb to be to show age: I am twenty-four years old. In Spanish, however, one has years: Tengo veinticuatro años.

When asking the age of someone (or something), you literally will ask how many years (or months, days, etc.) he, she, or it has:

2. “Tener” to talk about possessions, posesiones.

The simplest and most common use of tener is to show possession.

This one works the same like in English, to speak about things you have, you own, your belongingspertenencias.

3. “Tener” with several expressions about states or needs, expresiones de estados o necesidades

There are several phrases in Spanish that use tener where in English we use the verb to be. For example, instead of being hungry (and adjective), one has hunger ( a noun). Below is an infographic with the most common of these expressions.

4. “Tener” to speak about about illnesses or sickness, enfermedades

Quite similar to the way we express in English too.

If you want to know more about sickness in Spanish, check out “How to express pain in Spanish”

5. “Tener” to express obligations and needs, obligaciones y necesidades

In order to show obligation or needs in Spanish, we will use the following recipe

Tener (conjugated) + que + ( verb in infinitive)

Tengo que ir al dentista, I have to go to the dentist

This expression can be translated as “someone has to do something.” Tener is conjugated according to the subject of the sentence.

6. “Tener” to express ” I feel like …”

To express you feel like something in Spanish we say ” tener ganas de…”


Tengo ganas de helado – I am feeling like an ice cream

Tengo ganas de comida mexicana – I am feeling like having mexican food

But when we feel like a verb, in English we use the gerund (verb+ing) in Spanish we use the infinitive instead.


Tengo ganas de ir al cine – I feel like going to the cinema

The conjugation of the verb TENER in the present

Tener is an irregular verb, which means that its conjugations don’t follow a common pattern. Since we use this verb a lot in Spanish, it’s a good idea to practice the present tense conjugations so you can use them quickly.

If you click here, you can see all the verb conjugations of tener in the different forms.

That is all 😉

Now practice the verb TENER in Spanish with these interactive exercises. Ready?

Memory game

I hope you enjoyed it and learn something, so you have something to practice this week.

If you like this blog I will appreciate if you could help me to spread it.

Share it with a fellow learner!

I would love that you leave a comment in the comments section with a sentence in Spanish using one of the 6 ways to use the verb “tener” in Spanish.

¡Hasta pronto!

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