Today we are going to study the Spanish verb “tener”. One of the most important and most used Spanish polysemic verbs.

If you want to learn Spanish and use words that Spanish native speakers usually use, learning polysemic verbs is fundamental. As we said, learning the different meanings of the verb tener is important to have a fluid conversation in Spanish.

As we will see below, the verb “tener” has different meanings. Among other, this verb is used to express possession and indicate a state. Due to this versatility, it is necessary to learn all its different uses when learning Spanish. Here are ten examples of how the verb “tener” can be used in Spanish in different contexts:

1. Tengo un coche nuevo (I have a new car). Here, the verb tener means “to own”. The person is indicating that he/she has recently acquired a new car. Other examples are: Tengo tu teléfono, no tengo tiempo, ella tiene mucha suerte (I have your phone, I don’t have time, she is very lucky).

2. Tengo frío o calor (I am cold or hot). This is probably one of the meanings that you already know, because in Spanish classes we always teach the difference between the verbs ser, estar, haber and tener. In this particular case the verb tener indicates “to be in a certain state or situation”.

3. Tengo que ir al trabajo (I have to go to work). In this case the verb is used in a verbal periphrasis expressing obligation or necessity. Remember that this verbal periphrasis is constructed with the grammatical structure of “tener que + infinitive”.

4. Tengo una reunión a las 10 de la mañana (I have a meeting at 10am). In this case the meaning is to have “scheduled” an activity. Now you know what to say when you have a class at our school.

5. Tengo 25 años (I am 25 years old). This is one the meanings we usually learn first. When we are asked about our age, we answer by using the verb “tener”. Although, you know, we Spaniards don’t like to be asked about age 😉

6. Tener sed, tener hambre, tener sueño (being thirsty, hungry, sleepy). As a student at our Spanish language school, I’m sure you know these three expressions. Hopefully it’s not the one about being sleepy!

7. Tener prisa (being in a hurry). A very common expression used when you are late for somewhere. The meaning is to have little time or to have an urgency that makes you spend little time on something or someone. We use it a lot when we meet someone in the street on the way to another place and we can’t spend time to chat.

8. Tener miedo (being scared). If you like horror movies, you will know this expression. It is used when something scares or frightens us. For example: Tengo miedo a las arañas (I’m afraid of spiders).

9. Tener cuidado (being careful). We use this expression when we want to tell someone to pay attention to something, usually because of some danger. For example: Ten cuidado con el perro (be careful with the dog).

There are many other expressions such as tener éxito, tener suerte, tener vergüenza, which we are sure you will learn in our Spanish language school. The Spanish verb tener it is an important element of the Spanish grammar and one of the most commonly used polisemyc verbs.

Lastly, we remind you that learning Spanish is an ongoing process and that it requires practice, dedication and knowledge of the culture and society. Learning Spanish is an enriching experience that opens doors to new cultures. We hope these examples have been useful in your journey towards learning Spanish 😊