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Tener and Haber are the two ways to say “have” in Spanish. Let’s start learning Tener and practice using the present tense conjugations (tengo, tiene, tienes, tienen, and tenemos).

Full Podcast Episode


Today we’re gonna have a new way to say “have”.

Intro: Join us on a rigorous, step-by-step journey to fluency. I’m Timothy and this is LearnCraft Spanish.

Today we’re going to learn another verb, the verb for “to have”.

We already learned the verb Haber as the version of “to have” that puts things in the past. But what about this sentence:

They have something.

This isn’t putting something in the past; this is what we call “possession”, or simply having something. The thing after “have” is a noun, exchangeable with food (they have food).

So today’s verb is Tener, spelled t-e-n-e-r.

For example:

I am going to have something.

Voy a tener algo.

I’m really excited that we’re learning this verb, because it’s one of the simplest ways to start using our direct objects in full Spanish sentences. For example, instead of “algo”, we can change this sentence template to use any of our direct objects.

I am going to have it(m).

Lo voy a tener.

I am going to have them(f).

Las voy a tener.

It is a little weird to use this verb with pronouns that represent people, such as me and te and nos, but it does work in certain contexts, such as “we haven’t had her here with us since last year” or “they have us here late on Thursdays.” And from a purely grammatical standpoint, direct objects and Tener get along with each other really well.

Tener’s participle follows the same pattern we’ve learned for some other verbs: ser became sido, ir became ido, and tener becomes tenido. For example:

We have had this house for a while.

Hemos tenido esta casa por un tiempo.

Let’s learn the present-tense conjugations of Tener, the words for “I have”, “they have”, and so on. First I’m just going to list them, and then for those of you who like the mnemonics, we’ll use a small memory palace to help memorize them.

So I have is yo tengo. The word for “he/she/it has” is tiene, “you have” is tienes, and “they have” is tienen. And then “we have” is tenemos.

Here are some quick examples.

They have it.

Lo tienen.

We have something here.

Tenemos algo aquí.

Do you have that?

¿Tienes eso?

I don’t have her anymore.

Ya no la tengo.

Most of our students like using a memory palace to help keep these forms straight, so I’ll spend the next two minutes of this episode introducing that palace, which we’ll use more extensively in tomorrow’s episode.

Imagine that you’re in a store that sells dancing dolls. You didn’t bring any money, though, maybe because you didn’t expect to buy one of these dolls; however, your friend on the hovercraft and also the pandas have brought lots of Japanese Yen. (That’s the same type of money that the alguien figure was clutching in the swamp.)

When you first walk into the doll store, you find yourself attacked by a giant dancing doll, almost as tall as you. This animatronic toy insists on dancing with you, and it’s doing the tango. Now in Spanish, the word for the dance, “tango”, is pronounced tango, spelled with an A. But the word that we’re going to learn for you in this scene is tengo, spelled t-e-n-g-o. This means “I have”.

So that’s your own word. But check out what the other people in the place are doing: The pandas and the guy on the hovercraft are talking with the store owner, an eccentric older gentleman who is himself holding what looks like a large amount of money… but if you look closely, it’s clearly toy money. For some reason, the pandas and the curly-haired kid think it’s a good idea to buy some of this toy money, using their real money. So imagine the pandas, the curly-haired kid, and the store owner all trading around the Yen. All of their conjugations stress the syllable “yen”: tiene for the store owner, tienes for the kid, and tienen for the pandas.

Let’s practice all of these a bit.

They have it here.

Lo tienen aquí.

My friend(m) has a good house.

Mi amigo tiene una buena casa.

I don’t have those things.

No tengo esas cosas.

You(formal) have something there.

Usted tiene algo ahí.

You all have them(m)?

¿Ustedes los tienen?

You don’t have that.

Tú no tienes eso.

The only remaining word is the conjugation for “we have”, which is tenemos. This is pretty much exactly what you would expect it to be; it’s like tener, but with mos at the end.

Now, when practicing Tener, one of the biggest tricks is to make sure not to get it confused with Haber. Remember that Tener involves having nouns, not having done something. So in our quizzing, when you see “have” in English, you could be dealing with either Haber or Tener. If it’s Tener, the thing after it is probably going to pass the “food test”. If it instead passes the “eaten test”, we’re dealing with Haber.

So let’s do a nice big quiz to practice our new Tener conjugations, but I’ll also throw in a few Haber examples just to help practice choosing the right verb.

I only have a house.

Solo tengo una casa.

We don’t have those things this year.

No tenemos esas cosas este año.

There will be the same things that there already were.

Habrá las same cosas que ya había.

Habrá las mismas cosas que ya había.

She is leaving, as she wants to do.

Se va, como she wants hacer.

Se va, como quiere hacer.

Good day! All good? Are you leaving already?

¡Buen día! ¿Todo bien? ¿Ya te vas?

The good(thing) is that the lady has had a good life.

Lo bueno es que la señora ha tenido una buena vida.

We have a party this afternoon and they have a concert.

Tenemos a party esta tarde y ellos tienen a concert.

Tenemos una fiesta esta tarde y ellos tienen un concierto.

Good afternoon, sir, I have your(formal) keys in case you need them(f).

Buenas tardes, señor, tengo sus keys por si las you need.

Buenas tardes, señor, tengo sus llaves por si las necesita.

The truth is that she is about to have a new house.

La verdad es que ella está por tener una casa nueva.

You have a lot of work because of your boss.

Tienes a lot of work por tu boss.

Tienes mucho trabajo por tu jefe.

Thank you! And where can we feed ourselves?

¡Gracias! ¿Y dónde nos can we feed?

¡Gracias! ¿Y dónde nos podemos alimentar?

Good evening! How much have they paid because of being here?

¡Buenas noches! ¿Cuánto han paid por estar aquí?

¡Buenas noches! ¿Cuánto han pagado por estar aquí?

All done! I can leave since I’m not going to have more.

¡Ya está! Me puedo ir ya que no voy a tener más.

That man is so tall that I haven’t seen someone like him.

Ese hombre es tan tall que no he seen alguien como él.

Ese hombre es tan alto que no he visto a alguien como él.

You have money upon having worked.

Tienes money al haber worked.

Tienes dinero al haber trabajado.

Hi! I’m going to introduce myself!

¡Hola! Me voy a introduce.

¡Hola! Me voy a presentar.

You’re welcome! How do they have those things?

¡De nada! ¿Cómo tienen esas cosas?

We have had what the woman has.

Hemos tenido lo que la mujer tiene.

This night there is a lot of food.

Esta noche hay a lot of food.

Esta noche hay mucha comida.

Good morning! You(formal) have a big smile today!

¡Buenos días! ¡Usted tiene a big smile today!

¡Buenos días! ¡Usted tiene una gran sonrisa hoy!

He has been there, but they haven’t been present.

Él ha estado ahí, pero ellos no han estado.

Actually, you have had problems with the young lady.

En verdad, has tenido problems con la señorita.

En verdad, has tenido problemas con la señorita.

I have never done something like that.

Nunca he hecho algo así.

For more practice with Tener and Haber, go to LCSPodcast.com/51.

In tomorrow’s episode, we’re going to learn all the rest of our important tenses and moods of Tener.

This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach [...]. Our music was provided by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.

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