What are the six forms of tener?

What are the six forms of tener?

Tener (teh-ner) is a Spanish word whose literal meaning is ‘to have’. Tener is also used to frame common expressions in the daily English language that are used with ‘to be.’ Spanish verbs are a part of different groups and each group of verbs is conjugated in different manners. While learning the usage of verbs, you first need to be aware of the category that the verb belongs to. 

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The verb might be regular, spelling changing, stem-changing, or reflexive. There are other very popular irregular Spanish verbs such as venir, querer, ser, and hacer.

In this article, we will see how tener is used and its conjugation in the present, perfect, and imperfect tense.

Conjugation of tener in the present tense

The conjugation of tener does not follow a specific pattern which makes it an imperfect verb. This verb is used quite often in Spanish and hence you need to practice conjugation in order to learn and get acquainted with the usage of tener.

You create sentences that start with a subject and are followed by a suitable verb form. Each verb form has different spelling hence there are times when you can omit the subject when it is too obvious. 

Let’s understand this with an example. If you want to write that you have a car, you will write it as Yo tengo un carro, but since tengo is the form of tener that is used only for the noun ‘you’, you can omit it in the sentence and simply write as tengo un carro.

Forms of tener

  • Yo tengo 

Meaning: I have

  • Tú tienes

Meaning: You have (informal)

  • Nosotros/as tenemos

Meaning: We have

  • Vosotros/as tenéis

meaning: You all have (informal)

  • Ustedes/ellos/ellas tienen

Meaning: They/ You all have

  • Usted/él/ella tiene

Meaning: You/ He/ She has (formal)

Expressions in Spanish

Now that we know the various ways to conjugate the verb, let us learn how to use it to form some common Spanish expressions. This could be a little tricky as in English we use different verbs and their forms to convey these ideas. Hence, you should not try translating these verbs from word to word, rather you should try to understand the expressions.

  • Tener sed

Meaning: to be thirsty

  • Tener que

Meaning: to have to

  • Tener hambre

Meaning: to be hungry

  • Tener calor

Meaning: to be hot

  • Tener sueño

Meaning: to be sleepy

  • Tener __ años

Meaning: to be _ years old

  • Tener cuidado

Meaning: to be careful

  • Tener razón

Meaning: To be right

  • Tener ganas

Meaning: to feel like

  • Tener prisa

Meaning: to be in a hurry

  • Tener frio

Meaning: to be cold

For each of the above-mentioned expressions, we will use the forms of this verb that we learned above and form sentences. 

For example; if we want to write Marta is sleepy and her brother Arthur is hungry, we will write it as Marta tiene sueño y Arthur tience hambre.

If we say that the sun rises in the East, we are right or we can say that tenemos razón. And if Martha and Arthur say that the sun rises in the West, they are wrong or ellos no tienen razón.

While using English, we often say ‘to have fun’ where what we are actually trying to say is not that we possess fun, it simply means that we are enjoying ourselves. Similarly, in phrases like tener sed and tener hambre, we are not trying to convey that we possess hunger or thirst, we are just expressing that we are feeling hungry or thirsty.

Conjugation of tener in the preterit tense

  • Yo tuve

Meaning: I had

  • Usted tuvo

Meaning: You had (formal)

  • Tú tuviste

Meaning: You had (informal)

  • Ustedes tuvieron

Meaning: You all had (informal)

  • Nosotros tuvimos

Meaning: We had

  • él/ella/ello/uno tuvo

Meaning: He/She/One had

  • Ellos/ellas tuvieron

Meaning: They had

  • Vosotros tuvisteis

Meaning: You all had (informal)

Before you put the verb into use in the preterit tense, let us tell you about an interesting fact. This verb changes its meaning when used in the preterit tense. Here the meaning of this verb changes to ‘to have at a certain period of time’. Interesting isn’t it?

While in the preterit form, this verb changes its meaning, in the imperfect form, the conjugation of this verb is normal.

Conjugation of tener in imperfect tense

  • Usted tenía

Meaning: You used to have (informal)

  • Yo tenía

Meaning: I used to have

  • Ustedes tenían

Meaning: You all used to have (formal)

  • Ellos/ellas tenían

Meaning: They used to have

  • Tú tenías

You used to have (informal)

  • Nosotros teníamos

Meaning: We used to have

  • él/ella/ello/uno tenía

Meaning: He/She/One used to have

  • Vosotros teníais

Meaning: You all used to have (informal)

This verb also follows an irregular pattern in the future tense. The endings are however normal.

Conjugation of tener in the future tense

  • yo tendré

Meaning: I will have

  • ellos/ellas tendrán

Meaning: They will have

  • usted tendrá

Meaning: You will have (Formal)

  • tú tendrás

Meaning: You will have (informal)

  • ustedes tendrán

Meaning: You all will have (formal)

  • él/ella/ello/uno tendrá

Meaning: He/She/One will have

  • vosotros tendréis

Meaning: You all will have (Informal)

  • nosotros tendremos

Meaning: We will have

Main uses of tener

This verb is used in three basic meanings:

  1. As a verb that means ‘to have’ which refers to the possession or ownership of something.
  2. Along with the conjunction Que, where the meaning changes to ‘to have to’
  3. As a part of some set expressions that are also a part of the day-to-day English. They are generally used with ‘to be.’

Other forms of tener

There are various other forms of the verb tener. It is in the past imperfect tense follows a regular pattern. Whereas the subjunctive form of this verb is irregular. 

In Spanish, we use the verb in a number of phrases by adding a noun with the verb tener. These phrases are at times considered equivalent to English phrases that use the verb to be with an adjective.

What are the six forms of tener?

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