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Spanish Lesson Eleven: Saying What You Have To Do

Updated on August 26, 2012

Before You Read

It's Sunday again!! This week we're going to be on lesson eleven. Oh my goodness, how the time flies!! I hope you guys have been learning Spanish "A Little At A Time". I hope you guys enjoyed the quiz in the last lesson. I'm pretty sure it was an eye opener for those who hadn't yet retained all the information. No big deal. These lessons are designed for you to go at your own pace and be as fluent as you'd like. Now for those hardcore Spanish geeks like me, you'll probably be sticking around for the duration of these lessons (that currently have no end). So let's get back to some more awesome grammar this week!! Yay!! I know it sounds boring, but grammar is very important in the Spanish language, just as important as it is in English. For those who need assistance, contact me whenever you need to.

These lessons are meant to be short and help you gain a steady fluency in the Spanish language. For those of you who have been reading, I hope you have found this information useful and are indeed retaining some of it. For those of you joining in for the first time, take a look at the previous lessons you've missed. The link is below.

Last week we took a quiz based off of lessons 1-8. I hope you all enjoyed that. Today we're getting back in the rotation with grammar and vocabulary. In This lesson you're learn how tell someone what you have to do. This will be an introduction to the verb Tener. Also I'm going to tell you about Spanish Prepositions.

Previous Lessons

Today's Vocabulary

Today we are discussing Spanish Prepositions. They mirror that of English and can help us really give detail on What We Have To Do. If you have to somewhere or put something on top, below, or in the vicinity of something else, you need to know these words. If you don't remember what a preposition in English is, I don't blame you. Sometimes it takes a reminder, check out this School House Rock Video.

En: In, On

Encima de: On top of

Enfrente de: In front of

Entre: Between, Among

Fuera de: Outside of

Hacia: Toward

Hasta: Until

Para: For, In order to

Por: For, By

Según: In order to

Sin: Without

Sobre: Over, About

Tras: After, Behind

A: to, at, by means of

Antes de: Before

Bajo: Under

Cerca de: Near

Con: With

Contra: Against

De: Of, or From, indicating possession

Delante de: In front of

Dentro de: Inside of

Desde: Since, From

Después de: After

Detrás de: Behind

Durante: During


Read the following chart on how to conjugate the verb Tener before moving onto the lesson. Tener is the infinitive for "to have" as in possession. In English we use "have" in possessive and discussing things in the past. In Spanish there is another verb for that purpose, so study Tener for use in the possessive.

He/She/You (Formal)
They (Informal)/ They (Formal
Ellos or Ellas/Ustedes

Por Vs. Para

Okay, so your vocabulary list consisted of Spanish Prepositions that will definitely help you tell where you're going and what you're going through with. If you'd forgotten what a preposition was, I hoped you watched the video. It's really fun to watch and I remember a great deal of it from when I was in Elementary School. Prepositions are important and are definitely useful when you're discussing what you have to do.

Now you'll notice that each word has a very specific definition and very straight forward. However, the words por and para are commonly misused as they refer to different things. It's kinda like estar and ser or saber and conocer. Same meanings, but used in different context. The following is a set of rules to know when to use para and when to use por.


  • Movement
  • Time or duration
  • Cause (or an effect)
  • Saying per (as in percentages)
  • Supporting or in favor of
  • When using passive voice
  • Means of transportation
  • Other Uses...


  • For the purpose of or In order to
  • For the benefit of or Direct to
  • To or in the direction of
  • By or For referring to a specific time.


Yo hablo por el telefono (I talk on the the telephone)

Cinco por ciento (Five per hundred/ 5%)

Tengo que mirar la tele para terminar la tarea (I have to watch tv to finish the homework)

El dinero es para tú (The money is for you)

Saying What You Have To Do

Saying what you have to do must be said by using a combination of words. The following is the formula for saying what you, someone, or something has to do.

Tener + Que + Inf.

The formula means the verb Tener plus the word Que (Without the accent over the 'e') plus the Spanish Infinitive. Don't forget infinitive is just another word for verb. So in order to create the phrase you must conjugate the verb tener to reflect the subject, add the word Que and then your infinitive to complete the thought. Here, take a look at this example:

Tengo que leer el libro.

The phrase has tener conjugated into the yo form, the word que, plus an infinitive to complete the thought. I added libro to the phrase. It means I have to read the book. Simple enough? If you want to change the subject, look back to your chart and conjugate accordingly. Then you must add que, an infinitive and object of preposition if you wish. Try to make compound sentences to help your fluency. You know how to say how you feel, maybe you can add something to that. Take this phrase up for a gander.

Estoy cansado. Tengo que dormir. That phrase means I am tired. I have to sleep. I know it sounds crazy, but it'll definitely help you get a bit more fluent. Of course saying what you want to do and what you are going to do also requires a particular set of instructions. We'll get to those in a couple of weeks.

Here's one last sentence, combining everything you've learned so far. Try to come up with some on your own.

Tengo que buscar el libro. Está encima de el escritorio. I have to find the book. It is on top of the desk.

EXTRA RULE: After the word que, your infinitive must NEVER be conjugated. It must be in its regular form to create the sentence. Also, two conjugated verbs cannot sit side by side.


Your homework for today is watch the video below that corresponds with Lesson Six: Nouns, Gender, and Articles. It's a short video I found on Youtube and will help you guys recall the Spanish articles (definite and indefinite). Take a look!!

Also in the coming lessons we will be discussing a great deal more about grammar and how to say things such as:

  • What Are You Going To Do?
  • What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?
  • What Do You Like And Dislike?

Next week we will be discussing Telling Time! Make sure you show up for that one! :)


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