13 Expressions with "tener" for everyday situations

learning strategies Jul 07, 2022

If you know a bit of Spanish, you will be familiar with the verb "tener", which literally means “to have”. Like in English, we use this verb to express possession, for example “tengo una casa en España” (I have a house in Spain)

"Tener" is one of the most common and useful verbs in Spanish, and as well as expressing possession, it has some other uses too...

Today, I’m bringing you 13 very common expressions with "tener" for everyday situations. 

These expressions frequently cause confusion for English speakers because in English they are used with “to be” (they are states of being), but in Spanish they are always formed with "tener".

Whether you know some, most or none of these, why not take a look at them and pick the ones that you can use straight away:

  1. Tener x años  (To be x years old) Tengo 43 años (I am 43 years old)
  2. Tener hambre  (To be hungry) ¿Tienes hambre? Podemos salir y picar algo (Are you hungry? We can go out and nibble something)
  3. Tener sed (To be thirsty) Tengo sed, ¿tomamos algo en esta terraza?  (I'm thirsty, shall we have a drink in this terraza?)
  4. Tener sueño (To be sleepy) Tengo sueño porque anoche no dormí bien  (I'm feeling sleepy because I didn’t sleep well last night)
  5. Tener frío (To be cold) ¡Mi hija nunca tiene frío! (My daughter is never cold!)
  6. Tener calor (To be hot) ¿Tienes calor? (Are you hot?)
  7. Tener prisa (To be in a hurry) No puedo hablar ahora, tengo prisa (I can’t speak now, I’m in a hurry)
  8. Tener miedo (To be scared) Tengo miedo de las serpientes (I'm scared of snakes)
  9. Tener cuidado (To be careful) ¡Ten cuidado! (Be careful!)
  10. Tener razón (To be right) Tienes razón, el restaurante está cerrado (You’re right, the restaurant is closed)
  11. Tener suerte (To be lucky) Tienes mucha suerte (You're very lucky)
  12. Tener (muchas) ganas de … (To be (really) looking forward to ... )Tengo muchas ganas de ir a España pronto  (I'm really looking forward to going to Spain soon)
  13. Tener éxito - To be successful

Keep practicing tener, keep using these phrases and... tendrás mucho éxito con tu español! (you’ll be very successful with your Spanish!) 😉

Hasta pronto,


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