Verbos tener y venir


Recognize and understand the use of the irregular verbs tener and venir

Verbos tener (tener + que) y venir

The verbs tener (to have) and venir (to come) are special in the sense that they have an irregular yo form and also have a change of e>ie in their 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 AudioCuántos lápices tienes en tu mochila? (How many pencils do you have in your backpack?)

Tener + noun for physical conditions

There are a number of idiomatic expressions that combine forms of tener with certain nouns to express some physical conditions of people; these are expressed with “to be” in English, so you’ll have to pay close attention to remembering the Spanish way of saying them.

  • Tener calor = to be/feel hot (literally, “to have heat”)
  • Tener frío = to be/feel cold
  • Tener hambre = to be hungry
  • Tener miedo = to be afraid
  • Tener prisa = to be in a hurry
  • Tener sed = to be thirsty
  • Tener vergüenza = to be embarrassed
  • Tener ganas de = to be in the mood for

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.

The verb tener doesn’t just mean “to have” in the sense of possession: it is also used when we try to convey something that we have to do, following the structure: tener + que + infinitive.

  • Play AudioEste semestre tengo que estudiar mucho. (This semester I have to study a lot.)
  • Play AudioEsteban tiene que hacer la tarea para su clase de literatura. (Esteban has to do the homework for his literature class.)
  • Play AudioNosotros tenemos que hablar con nuestra profesora de español. (We have to speak with our Spanish professor.)


The verb venir means “to come”, and it has the same irregularities as tener when conjugated in the present tense. But it doesn’t have so many idiomatic uses!

venir (to come)
(stem: ven; irregular yo-form; stem-vowel change)
singular plural
Play Audioyo vengo Play Audionosotros venimos
Play Audiovienes Play Audiovosotros venís
Play Audioél viene
Play Audioella viene
Play Audiousted viene
Play Audioellos vienen
Play Audioellas vienen
Play Audioustedes vienen
  • Play AudioEllos vienen a la universidad todos los días. (They come to the university every day.)
  • Play Audio¿A qué hora vienes a la clase de español? (At what time do you come to Spanish class?)


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