Spanish Tener Idioms

Beginner Spanish - Level A1


An idiom is an expression that cannot be immediately understood by analyzing its literal meaning. There are many idiomatic expressions with tener.

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Spanish A1


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Tener Idioms and How to Use Them

In our previous lesson we learned all about the verb TENER (Tener Module) and its special spelling rules. As a quick review, let’s take a look at its conjugation chart below:

 TENER = To have

Yo tengo – I have

Nosotros(as) temenos – We have

 tienes – You (informal) have

Vosotros(as) tenéis – You all have

Él tiene – He has

Ella tiene – She has

Usted tiene – You (formal) have

Ellos tienen – They have

Ellas tienen – They have

Ustedes tienen – You all have

Now, how do we use tener with idioms...?

Today we’re going to dive deeper into the verb TENER by discussing its idioms. Tener Idioms are phrases that change the meaning of the verb TENER when paired together. When we use these idioms, we will conjugate the verb tener just as we would if it stood alone. Check out the list of common TENER IDIOMS below!

  • Tener _____ años = To be _____ years old. (Yo tengo 15 años = I am 15 years old)
  • Tener + que + infinitive (unchanged form of a verb) = To have to (Tengo que trabajar = I have to work)
  • Tener + ganas de + infinitive = To feel like ______ (Tienen ganas de nadar = They feel like swimming)
  • Tener hambre = To be hungry (Tenemos hambre = We are hungry)
  • Tener sed = To be thirsty (Ella tiene sed = She is thirsty)
  • Tener prisa = To be in a hurry (Tenemos prisa = We are in a hurry)
  • Tener calor/frío = To be hot/cold (En el Sur siempre tenemos calor = In the South we are always hot)
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Let’s practice!
Remember to click READ MORE below to see the answer key! 

  1. Fill in the blanks: ________   _________ are phrases that change the meaning of the verb TENER.
  2. T/F We use new conjugations of TENER when it is used with idioms.


    Given the situations below, provide the tener idiom that best fits. *Be sure to conjugate TENER based on the subject of the sentence.

  3. It is 29 degrees outside, and you forgot your jacket. You may say, “I
  4. We have not eaten all day so when the server asks how we are we may say…
  5. Someone asks how old your son is. You would say he
  6. Your friends are lost in the desert and haven’t had water in hours. They
  7. I noticed you are driving really fast. I may ask you
  8. I notice my dog panting a lot and I tell my husband that she
  9. Curfew is 10:00 and it’s currently 9:45. I tell my friends “I
  10. Your favorite song just came on the radio and you may say, “I… (bailar = to dance)

Answer key: 1. Tener idioms, 2. F, 3. (Yo) Tengo frío, 4. (Nosotros) Tenemos hambre, 5. Él tiene ___ años, 6. (Ellos) Tienen sed, 7. ¿(Tú) Tienes prisa? 8. (Ella) Tiene calor, 9. (Yo) Tengo que ir. 10. Tengo ganas de bailar. 

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