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Spanish Lesson Sixty-Seven: Idiomatic Expressions Using Tener

Updated on November 18, 2013

Hey Readers!

Welcome again to an all new Spanish lesson! Are you enjoying yourselves? In case you didn't know, my Spanish lessons are the highest rated articles I've written on Hubpages. Some of them have received over five hundred to six hundred views. Isn't that just awesome! I'm so excited that these lessons are helping lots of people who are either learning in school or at their own leisure. So thank you for all the support. When we finish up with Spanish, I want to move on to another language. Since my Twitter following is heavily followed by Portuguese teens (I know... random), I want to start learning Portuguese. Sounds exciting?

I keep saying this every week to to let you all know that I love all languages, not just English and Spanish. So yeah, let's move on to today's lesson...

Wait! I forgot... just so you know, in observance of Thanksgiving, there will NOT be a lesson next Monday. We will pick things back up on December 2, 2013. Got it? Okay!


  • To Recognize pertinent expressions that use the verb tener
  • To Be Able to introduce new phrases into everyday language use
  • To Understand the significance and importance of the phrases and terms discussed in this lesson

Do You Know Any Expressions Using Tener?

See results

Tener Is A Versatile Verb

Hey Readers!

Welcome! So... as you know, we're working on phrases using the verb "tener". Remember this verb means "to have", not to be confused with "haber" which also means "to have". That verb is a helping verb, remember?

So, if you remember from some time ago, we learned about Tener + Que + Inf to describe something that we have to do. If you don't, check out this ancient lesson Eleven. Anyway, my point is that Tener has many uses and is used in many important phrases and sayings in the Spanish language. As crazy as it sounds, Tener is used to describe conditions of people, what's going on at the time. So, it's pretty versatile. I want you to keep that in mind and think of the meaning "to have" when thinking of the verb. It'll help you remember when to use tener to describe the conditions of things. These expressions will be featured in your vocabulary list.

English Expression
Spanish Equiv
To Be Cold/Hot
Tener Frío/Calor
To Be Hungry
Tener Hambre
To Be Thirsty
Tener Sed
To Be Sleepy
Tener Sueño
To Be In A Hurry
Tener Prisa
To Be Afraid Of...
Tener Miedo
To Be Jealous
Tener Celos
To Be Confident
Tener Confianza
To Be Ashamed
Tener Vergüenza
To Be Careful
Tener Cuidado
To Be Right
Tener Razón
To Be Lucky
Tener Suerte
To Be Guilty
Tener La Culpa
To Feel Like...
Tener Ganas De
To Take Into Account
Tener En Cuenta

Today's Vocabulary

So... now that we've reached this portion of the lesson, it's pretty obvious what your vocabulary is today. Remember that these phrases can also be called idiomatic, meaning that it is an expression that cannot be understood if taken literally. Think of cliches and other phrases similar to those in English. Think about the terms involving weather like Hace frío... it makes cold? But really it just means "it is cold". So yeah. Take a look at these phrases, study them, and I'll tell you how to use them.

If you will note, these all way "To Be" or "To Feel". Remember that Tener means "to have" and always will. Its meaning doesn't change except in these idiomatic phrases where the literal meaning is interpreted as something else entirely. Take careful look at the phrases and I will ask you a question in the lesson to see if you were paying attention.

  • Ensure that tener reflects the subject accordingly
  • Use "mucho" when referring to "very"
  • When referring to a person after expression use the personal "a" to refer to animals or people
  • When referring to something inanimate use "de" to refer to that object.

Expressions Using Tener

Alright readers... what's the common factor in all of these expressions? Yes... they all use tener, but what else? Anyone? Well if you guessed it, each phrase is literally tener plus a non. Hambre means hunger, sed means thirst, celos refers to jealousy. So think of it that way, okay? Let's look at some examples

Pablo tiene prisa. Pablo is in a hurry. The noun "prisa" literally means hurry. So "Pablo has hurry" is the literal definition. Note that I conjugated tener according to the subject.

Enrique tiene mucho miedo a su mamá. Pablo is very afraid of his mom. Pablo has much fear towards his mom. Get it?

Tengo ganas de bailar. I feel like dancing. I have like of dancing. See how it doesn't make sense? Yeah.. make sense of it! Note I did not conjugate "bailer" into the present progressive. In this case, leave any verb after "de" as an infinitive. Trust me, natives know what you mean. Also note that the phrase is not altered in anyway save for tener's conjugation.

Nosotros tenemos mucho suerte! We are very lucky! Note that I used "mucho" instead of "muy". Think of "muy" as preceding an adjective whereas "mucho" would precede a noun. Muy means "very" whereas mucho means "a lot". You can't have "very", right? So always remind yourself to use "mucho" in this case.

So that's about it. It's all I have to teach you except for one special note. If you want to know what's the matter with someone? Just ask ¿Qué tienes? What do you have? It is a good formal way of asking what kind of condition are they in. Generally this is the backwards way to ask if someone is in a hurry or afraid or hungry. Get it?

Anyway, Readers, thanks a lot for reading today! If you have questions or comments, leave them below. Remember, I will not be returning until December 2, 2013. We will be discussing Idiomatic Expressions Using Poner.

© 2013 A.E. Williams


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    • marieryan profile image

      Marie Ryan 16 months ago from Andalusia, Spain

      Good explanation! Very well set-out.

    • CrazedNovelist profile image

      A.E. Williams 3 years ago from Hampton, GA

      Good. Thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      Katherine 3 years ago

      Going to put this artclie to good use now.

    • CrazedNovelist profile image

      A.E. Williams 4 years ago from Hampton, GA

      Yay! So glad it's helping. Thanks so much for the feedback!

    • Prithima Sharma profile image

      Prithima Sharma 4 years ago from Delhi, India

      hola, i m also learning spanish and it is really useful to me.