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Tener Expressions: 31 Different Ways to Use Tener in Spanish

“Tener” expressions in Spanish – two women studying together

Native Spanish speakers use idiomatic expressions very often, and learning the most common ones will help you understand real conversations well and speak Spanish naturally. Ready to learn some common tener expressions? Let’s go! 


Don’t forget to read about the conjugation of tener if you don’t know it yet! Tener is one of the most used Spanish verbs.


Tener Expressions: Idioms

1. ¿Conque esas tenemos?

If a friend tells you: “¿Conque esas tenemos?”, it is because he is mad at you, and he does not like what you did or are about to do.

Voy a contarle a tu mamá que le mentiste.
(I will tell your mom you lied to her.)

¡Ah! ¿Conque esas tenemos?
(Oh! So, that’s how things are going to be.)

2. No tengo donde caer muerto.

“No tengo donde caer muerto” literally means “I have no place to be buried”. Native Spanish speakers use that expression to mean that they have no money.

¿Cómo quieres que compre estos zapatos? No tengo ni donde caer muerto.
(How do you expect me to buy these shoes? I don’t have money.)

3. Tengo ganas de + infinitive

If you “tienes ganas de estudiar Español”, you feel like studying Spanish. Use the expression “tengo ganas de” and an infinitive to mean “I feel like…”.

Tengo ganas de comer pizza.
(I feel like eating pizza.)

Tener Expressions: Physical Conditions

4. tener frío (to be cold)

Olvidé mi suéter y ahora tengo mucho frío.
(I forgot my sweater, and now I am very cold.)

5. tener calor (to be hot)

Los chicos están sudando. Seguramente tienen mucho calor.
(The boys are sweating. They must be very hot.)

6. tener hambre (to be hungry)

¡Mira los perritos! Tienen hambre. No han comido nada.
(Look at the dogs! They are hungry. They have not eaten anything.)

7. tener sed (to be thirsty)

No he tomado agua todo el día. ¡Tengo mucha sed!
(I haven’t drank water the whole day. I’m so thirsty!)

8. tener tos (to have a cough)

Esteban está enfermo. Tiene tos.
(Esteban is sick. He has a cough.)

9. tener fiebre (to have fever)

Estás muy caliente. Creo que tienes fiebre.
(You are hot. I think you have a fever.)

10. tener dolor de cabeza (to have a headache)

Necesito una pastilla. Tengo un dolor de cabeza muy fuerte.
(I need a pill. I have a very strong headache.)

11. tener sueño (to be sleepy)

Ustedes tienen sueño porque han dormido poco.
(You are sleepy because you have not slept much.)

12. tener cansancio (to be tired)

Hemos trabajado todo el día. Tenemos un cansancio enorme.
(We have worked all day. We are very tired.)

13. tener mala cara (to look pale)

Tienes mala cara. ¿Te sientes bien?
(You look pale. Are you OK?)

14. tener X años (to be X years old)

Mi abuela tiene 85 años.
(My grandmother is 85 years old.)

Tener Expressions: Mental States

15. tener miedo (to be scared)

¿Escuchaste ese ruido extraño? Tengo miedo.
(Did you hear that strange noise? I’m scared.)

16. tener celos (to be jealous)

¿Por qué me miras así? ¿Acaso tienes celos?
(Why are you looking at me like that? Are you jealous?)

17. tener envidia (to be envious/jealous)

Alex te tiene envidia porque tu siempre sales bien en los exámenes.
(Alex is jealous because you always do well on exams.)

18. tener confianza (to have confidence)

Necesitas tener confianza en ti mismo.
(You need to have confidence in yourself.)

19. tener verguenza (to be ashamed)

No botes la basura en la calle. No tienes vergüenza.
(Do not throw trash in the street. You have no shame.)

20. tener lástima (to feel pity/to be sorry)

Créeme, no le tengo lástima.
(Believe me, I don’t feel sorry for him.)

21. tener pensado + infinitive (to plan to do something)

Tengo pensado salir esta tarde. ¿Quieres venir?
(I plan to go out this afternoon. Do you want to come?)

Tener Expressions: Miscellaneous

22. tener cuidado (to be careful)

¡Ten cuidado! Ese camino es peligroso.
(Be careful! That road is dangerous.)

23. tener prisa (to be in a hurry)

No nos podemos quedar mucho tiempo. Tenemos prisa.
(We cannot stay long. We are in a hurry.)

24. tener éxito (to have success)

Tendremos éxito si trabajamos duro.
(We will succeed if we work hard.)

25. tener razón (to be right)

Bueno, digamos que tienes razón.
(Well, let’s just say you are right.)

26. tener la culpa (to be guilty)

El niño no tiene la culpa. No lo castigues.
(The child is not guilty. Don’t punish him.)

27. tener suerte (to be lucky)

¡Tengo suerte! Pude comprar el último boleto.
(I’m lucky! I was able to buy the last ticket.)

28. tener en cuenta (keep in mind)

Ten en cuenta que hay gente mirando.
(Keep in mind that there are people watching.)

29. tener que + infinitive (to have to do something)

No puedes salir. Tienes que terminar tu tarea.
(You cannot go out. You have to finish your homework.)

30. tener presente (to keep in mind)

Ten presente que estoy feliz por ti.
(Keep in mind that I am happy for you.)

31. tener lugar (to have time)

No puedo ayudarte ahora. No tengo lugar.
(I can’t help you know. I don’t have time.)

Click here to read our comprehensive guide to all Spanish tenses!

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1 thought on “Tener Expressions: 31 Different Ways to Use Tener in Spanish”

  1. Taiye Alowonle

    Well, this was very interesting. I definitely feel understanding this will help me take my Spanish to the next level.

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