Gramática: El verbo tener

Objetivos

  • Recognize and use the irregular verb “tener”
  • Use “tener” for saying people’s age

Verbo tener

The verb tener (to have) is special in the sense that it has an irregular yo form and also has a change of e>ie in the stem.

Play Audiotener (to have)
(stem: ten; irregular yo-form; stem-vowel change)
singular plural
Play Audioyo tengo Play Audionosotros tenemos
Play Audiotienes Play Audiovosotros tenéis
Play Audioél tiene
Play Audioella tiene
Play Audiousted tiene
Play Audioellos tienen
Play Audioellas tienen
Play Audioustedes tienen
Photo of a sign outside a restaurant that says "No tenemos wi-fi HABLEN entre ustedes"

(Note: “hablar” is in the present subjunctive here because it’s a command. That will come in a later course…)

Photo of a young man holding a sign that reads "Tienen miedo porque no tenemos miedo"

miedo = fear, porque = because

  • Play AudioMaría tiene una clase de psicología a las dos de la tarde. (María has a psychology class at 2 p.m.)
  • Play Audio ¿Cuántos lápices tienes en tu mochila? (How many pencils do you have in your backpack?)

Tener años

To give age in Spanish, use the correct conjugation of the verb tener + number + años:

  • Play Audio¿Cuántos años tienes? (How old are you?)
  • Play AudioTengo 22 años. (I am 22 years old.)
  • Play AudioTengo trece años. (I’m 13.)
  • ¿Cuántos años tiene él?  (How old is he?)
  • Play AudioTiene ochenta y siete años. (He’s 87.)
  • Play Audio¿Cuántos años tienen?  (How old are they?)

Note: in English you can leave off “years old” and just say “I’m 22,” but in Spanish you must include the word años.

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