Tener Conjugation | How to Conjugate Tener in Spanish

María José Escobar Published on January 31, 2023

If you’re learning Spanish, chances are you have come across the verb tener quite a few times. This is one of the most used verbs in Spanish and you’ll find it useful to describe a variety of situations. In this article, I’ll show you how to conjugate the verb tener in different tenses and give you example sentences to practice. Let’s jump right in!

The verb tener in Spanish most literally means “to have.” It’s used to talk about possessions, emotions or feelings, someone’s age, and physical characteristics. In some of these cases, tener can also be used as the verb to be. For example, the common expression “Be careful!” uses the verb tener in Spanish: “¡Ten cuidado!”.

In this article, we’ll focus on the main meaning: to have. Like many commonly used Spanish verbs, tener is irregular. It doesn’t follow a specific conjugation pattern, so you’ll need to learn its different conjugations. But don’t worry, once you see how useful this verb can be, you’ll learn how to use it in no time!

The table below shows you the three main conjugation forms of the verb tener: the infinitive, the gerund, and the past participle.

tener conjugation table

Here are three example sentences that use the conjugations of tener from the table above:

  • Infinitive: Es bueno tener esperanza. (It’s good to have hope.)
  • Gerund: Estoy teniendo un año dificil. (I am having a tough year.)
  • Past Participle: He tenido muchas mascotas en mi vida. (I’ve had many pets in my life.)

You’ve now learned the three main conjugations for tener, but let’s take a look at all of its different tenses. Click on the tense to see tener conjugated in it:

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How to Conjugate Tener in Indicative Tense

Tener is most commonly used in tenses that belong to the indicative mood. This mood helps us describe events or situations as they are, focusing on facts. It’s also helpful when asking questions. This mood has the following tenses: indicative present, indicative future, indicative preterite, indicative imperfect, and indicative conditional.

Indicative Present

Of all the indicative forms of tener, you may find yourself using the indicative present the most. This tense helps us talk about an action or event that is happening now or in the near future. We also use it to express statements, absolute truths, or to describe routines.

In the following table, you can see a conjugation chart for ver in this present tense form:

PronounTener ConjugationEnglish Meaning
YoTengoI have
TienesYou have
VosTenésYou have
Él/Ella/UstedTieneHe/She has, You have
NosotrosTenemosWe have
VosotrosTenéisYou have
Ellos/Ellas/ UstedesTienenThey have, You have

Here are some example sentences showing how to conjugate tener in the indicative tense:

  • Tengo una cena importante esta noche. (I have an important dinner tonight.)
  • Tenemos que irnos temprano. (We have to go early.)
  • ¿Tenéis tareas para mañana? (Do you have homework for tomorrow?)

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Indicative Future

We use the indicative future to talk about something that will happen later in time. It also helps us describe predictions or plans for the future. You’ll find that this verb form of tener is one of its most commonly used future tenses.

Below is a conjugation chart for the indicative future tense of tener:

PronounTener ConjugationEnglish Meaning
YoTendréI will have
TendrásYou will have 
VosTendrásYou will have 
Él/Ella/UstedTendráHe/She/You will have 
NosotrosTendremos We will have 
VosotrosTendréisYou will have 
Ellos/Ellas/ UstedesTendránThey will have, You will have

Here are some example sentences showing how to conjugate tener in the indicative future tense:

  • En unos años tendré mi propia casa. (In a few years, I’ll have my own house.)
  • Ellos tendrán vacaciones en junio. (They will have vacations in June.)
  • Tendremos que esperar dos semanas para que el paquete llegue. (We’ll have to wait two weeks for the package to arrive.)

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Indicative Preterite

The indicative preterite is the most common past tense form of tener. We use it to talk about an action or event that happened at a specific point in the past. It also helps us describe general truths or statements of the past.

Here’s the conjugation chart of tener in indicative preterite tense:

PronounTener ConjugationEnglish Meaning
YoTuveI had 
TuvisteYou had 
VosTuvisteYou had 
Él/Ella/UstedTuvoHe/She/You had 
NosotrosTuvimosWe had 
VosotrosTuvisteisYou had 
Ellos/Ellas/ UstedesTuvieronThey had, You had 

Here are some example sentences showing how to conjugate tener in the indicative preterite tense:

  • Ellos tuvieron dos hijos. (They had two children.)
  • Tuvimos que irnos temprano. (We had to leave early.)
  • Él tuvo una empresa petrolera. (He had an oil company.)

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Indicative Imperfect

We use the indicative imperfect to describe past actions that were ongoing. This tense also helps us talk about recurrent events from the past or lasting characteristics. Note that this is quite a common form of past tense that you’ll see and use frequently.

In the following table, you can see the indicative imperfect conjugation chart for tener:

PronounTener ConjugationEnglish Meaning
YoTeníaI had 
TeníasYou had 
VosTenías You had 
Él/Ella/UstedTeníaHe/She/You had 
NosotrosTeníamosWe had 
VosotrosTeníais You had 
Ellos/Ellas/ UstedesTeníanThey had, You had 

Here are some example sentences showing how to conjugate tener in the indicative imperfect tense:

  • Ella tenía un perro en la universidad. (She had a dog in college.)
  • ¿Sabes si teníamos tarea para hoy? (Do you know if we had homework for today?)
  • Ellos tenían el mejor equipo de porristas. (They had the best cheer team.)

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Indicative Conditional

The indicative conditional helps us describe future events that will take place under certain circumstances. We use this verb form of tener to build conditional sentences. You’ll notice this tense being used in phrases with conjunctions like “if” or “when.”

Take a look at the table below to see the conjugation chart for tener in indicative conditional:

PronounTener ConjugationEnglish Meaning
YoTendría I would have 
TendríasYou would have 
VosTendríasYou would have 
Él/Ella/UstedTendríaHe/She/You would have 
NosotrosTendríamosWe would have 
VosotrosTendríais You would have 
Ellos/Ellas/ UstedesTendrían They would have, You would have 

Here are some example sentences showing how to conjugate tener in the indicative conditional tense:

  • Tendríamos que tener un pasaporte para viajar a Europa. (We would have to have a passport to travel to Europe.)
  • Para graduarte tendríais que terminar todas tus clases. (To graduate you would have to finish all of your classes.)
  • Para ver el show tendrías que comprar las boletas. (To watch the show you would have to buy the tickets.)

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How to Conjugate Tener in Perfect Tense

All perfect tenses are compound tenses. This means they are made up of a form of the helping verb haber and the past participle form tenido. They help us describe actions that were completed recently or that will be completed in the near future. We’ll take a look at the following perfect tenses: present perfect, future perfect, past perfect, conditional perfect, and preterite perfect

Present Perfect

We use the present perfect to describe past situations that are still connected to the present. For instance, it helps us describe past actions that are ongoing or haven’t been completed yet. It can also help us talk about actions that were completed right before the present.

Below is a conjugation chart for the Spanish verb tener in present perfect:

PronounTener ConjugationEnglish Meaning
YoHe tenido I have had 
Has tenido You have had 
VosHas tenidoYou have had 
Él/Ella/UstedHa tenido He/She has had, You have had 
NosotrosHemos tenido We have had 
VosotrosHabéis tenido You have had 
Ellos/Ellas/ UstedesHan tenido They have had, You have had 

Here are some example sentences showing how to conjugate tener in the present perfect tense:

  • Hemos tenido una reunión productiva esta mañana. (We’ve had a productive meeting this morning.)
  • ¿Habéis tenido la oportunidad de revisar el proyecto? (Have you had the chance to check the project?)
  • Has tenido un par de días difíciles. (You’ve had a couple of hard days.)

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Future Perfect

The future perfect helps us make guesses of something that will happen in the future. It’s useful when speaking about plans, wishes, or desires. You’ll likely see this verb tense used along with conditional conjunctions.

This is how you conjugate tener in present perfect:

PronounTener ConjugationEnglish Meaning
YoHabré tenido I will have had 
Habrás tenido You will have had 
VosHabrás tenido You will have had
Él/Ella/UstedHabrá tenido He/She/You will have had 
NosotrosHabremos tenido We will had 
VosotrosHabréis tenido You will have had 
Ellos/Ellas/ UstedesHabrán tenido They will have had, You will have had 

Here are some example sentences showing how to conjugate tener in the future perfect tense:

  • Habré tenido vacaciones antes del próximo año. (I will have had vacations before next year.)
  • Para correr una maratón, ellos habrán tenido que superar muchos obstáculos. (To run a marathon, they will have had to overcome many obstacles.)
  • Habrán tenido que aprender el nuevo idioma para cuando regresen de intercambio. (They will have had to learn the new language by the time they come back from abroad.)

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Past Perfect (Pluperfect)

We mostly use the past perfect tense to talk about actions that happened before other actions in the past. It’s also helpful when we want to make hypotheses about how the past could have been. This is a fairly common past tense form of tener and you’ll use it often.

In the following table you can see this past tense conjugation of tener:

PronounTener ConjugationEnglish Meaning
YoHabía tenido I had had 
Habías tenidoYou had had 
VosHabías tenido You had had 
Él/Ella/UstedHabía tenidoHe/She/You had had 
NosotrosHabíamos tenido We had had 
VosotrosHabíais tenidoYou had had 
Ellos/Ellas/ UstedesHabían tenido They had had, You had had 

Here are some example sentences showing how to conjugate tener in the past perfect tense:

  • Había tenido un mal día hasta que tú llegaste. (I’d had a bad day until you arrived.)
  • Creo que ellos no habían tenido en cuenta todos los detalles. (I think they hadn’t had in mind all of the details.)
  • Habíamos tenido problemas para armar el rompecabezas hasta que nos ayudaste. (We’d had issues putting the puzzle together until you helped us.)

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Conditional Perfect

The conditional perfect tense helps us describe unreal or impossible situations. We use it to talk about past events that could have happened but didn’t or to express possibilities about the past. You’ll find this tense frequently used with conditional conjunctions such as “if.”

This is how you conjugate tener in conditional perfect tense:

PronounTener ConjugationEnglish Meaning
YoHabría tenido I would have had 
Habrías tenido You would have had 
VosHabrías tenido You would have had 
Él/Ella/UstedHabría tenido He/She/You would have had 
NosotrosHabríamos tenido We would have had 
VosotrosHabríais tenido You would have had 
Ellos/Ellas/ UstedesHabrían tenido They would have had, You would have had 

Here are some example sentences showing how to conjugate tener in the conditional perfect tense:

  • Habría tenido la probabilidad de ganarme la beca si lo hubiera intentado. (I would have had the chance to earn the scholarship if I had tried.)
  • Habríamos tenido una mejor relación si supiéramos comunicarnos. (We would have had a better relationship if we knew how to communicate.)
  • No habríais tenido problema manejando en Madrid, es una ciudad sencilla de navegar. (You would have had no issues driving in Madrid, it’s a simple city to navigate.)

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Preterite Perfect (Past Anterior)

The preterite perfect tense has practically fallen into disuse in modern Spanish. Its purpose is to express an action that happened before another action or to describe conditionality. You may occasionally find it in academic or law-related literature.

The following is a conjunction chart for tener in this form of past tense:

PronounTener ConjugationEnglish Meaning
YoHube tenido I had 
Hubiste tenidoYou had 
VosHubiste tenido You had 
Él/Ella/UstedHubo tenido He/She/You had 
NosotrosHubimos tenido We had 
VosotrosHubisteis tenido You had 
Ellos/Ellas/ UstedesHubieron tenido They had, You had 

Here are some example sentences showing how to conjugate tener in the indicative tense:

  • Cuando hube tenido suficiente dinero, pude comprar el celular que quería. (When I had enough money, I was able to buy the phone I wanted.)
  • No descansamos hasta que hubimos tenido la tarea lista. (We didn’t rest until we had our homework ready.)
  • Él hubo tenido una infancia feliz. (He had a happy childhood.)

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How to Conjugate Tener in Subjunctive Tense

We use subjunctive tenses to convey subjectivity. They help us express emotions, feelings, plans, theories, or possibilities. The subjunctive tenses of tener all have the same stems: tenga-, tuviere-, or tuviera- with different endings. We’ll go over the present subjunctive, future subjunctive, and imperfect subjunctive.

Present Subjunctive

We use the present subjunctive to talk about present or future events that are not definite. This tense helps us express hypotheses, theories, or wishes of how the future might be. It’s very common to see this verb used in conditional sentences.

Below is a table with the present subjunctive conjugation of tener:

PronounTener ConjugationEnglish Meaning
YoTengaI have 
Tengas You have 
VosTengas You have 
Él/Ella/UstedTenga He/She has, You have 
NosotrosTengamos We have 
VosotrosTengáis You have 
Ellos/Ellas/ UstedesTengan They have, You have 

Here are some example sentences showing how to conjugate tener in the present subjunctive tense:

  • Cuando tengan hijos lo entenderán. (When you have children, you’ll understand.)
  • ¡Espero que tengan unas felices fiestas! (I hope you have happy holidays!)
  • Cuando tenga suficiente dinero, iré a Europa. (When I have enough money, I’ll go to Europe.)

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Future Subjunctive

The future subjunctive helps us describe possibilities for present or future events. It’s used very similarly to the present subjunctive. However, you might only find it in older literature and legal documents, since it’s no longer used in day-to-day Spanish.

This is how to conjugate tener in future subjunctive tense:

PronounTener ConjugationEnglish Meaning
YoTuviere I have 
Tuvieres You have 
VosTuvieres You have 
Él/Ella/UstedTuviere He/She has, You have 
NosotrosTuviéremos We have 
VosotrosTuviereis You have 
Ellos/Ellas/ UstedesTuvieren They have, You have 

Here are some example sentences showing how to conjugate tener in the future subjunctive tense:

  • Quien tuviere la salida de emergencía deberá leer el folleto de seguridad. (Whoever has the emergency exit will have to read the security flyer.)
  • Nos recomendaron que siempre tuviéremos un mapa con nosotros. (They recommended that we always have a map with us.)
  • Es importante que siempre tuvieren sus documentos a la mano. (It’s important that you always have your IDs at hand.)

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Imperfect Subjunctive

While the present subjunctive addresses present or future situations, the imperfect subjunctive refers to the past. We use it to talk about hypotheses or possibilities of what the past could have been. We can also use it to describe actions that would happen under different circumstances.

Below is the tener conjugation chart for the imperfect subjunctive tense:

PronounTener ConjugationEnglish Meaning
YoTuviera/ Tuviese I had 
Tuvieras/ Tuvieses You had 
VosTuvieras/ Tuvieses You had 
Él/Ella/UstedTuviera/ Tuviese He/She/You had 
NosotrosTuviéramos/ Tuviésemos We had 
VosotrosTuvierais/ Tuvieseis You had 
Ellos/Ellas/ UstedesTuvieran/ Tuviesen They had, You had 

Here are some example sentences showing how to conjugate tener in the imperfect subjunctive tense:

  • Si tuviera un carro te recogería. (If I had a car, I’d pick you up.)
  • Aunque tuviesen mucho que hacer, ellos nos ayudarían. (Even if they had a lot to do, they’d help us.)
  • Ojalá tuvieras todo lo que sueñas. (I wish you had everything you dream about.)

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How to Conjugate Tener in Perfect Subjunctive Tense

We use perfect subjunctive tenses to speak about past actions that are connected to the present or are ongoing. They also help us describe events or actions that will have happened at a certain point in the future. You’ll notice that all perfect subjunctive tenses are made up of the helping verb haber and the past participle of tener, which is tenido. We’ll take a look at the present perfect subjunctive, future perfect subjunctive, and pluperfect subjunctive.

Present Perfect Subjunctive

The present perfect subjunctive helps us describe an action that was completed before the sentence’s main clause. This can be either in the past or in the future. It can also help us give commands in certain situations.

Below you can see how to conjugate tener in the present perfect subjunctive tense:

PronounTener ConjugationEnglish Meaning
YoHaya tenido I have had 
Hayas tenido You have had 
VosHayas tenido You have had 
Él/Ella/UstedHaya tenido He/She has had, You have had 
NosotrosHayamos tenido We have had 
VosotrosHayáis tenido You have had 
Ellos/Ellas/ UstedesHayan tenido They have had, You have had

Here are some example sentences showing how to conjugate tener in the present perfect subjunctive tense:

  • Espero que hayas tenido unas buenas vacaciones. (I hope you’ve had a good vacation.)
  • No creo que hayan tenido algo que ver con el incidente. (I don’t think they have had anything to do with the incident.)
  • ¡Qué bueno que hayáis tenido la oportunidad de conocer Italia! (It’s so good that you’ve had the chance to visit Italy!)

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Future Perfect Subjunctive

The future perfect subjunctive is one of those tenses that are rarely used nowadays in Spanish. Its purpose is to describe actions that will happen in the future at a given point in time. You’ll occasionally see it in older academic or legal texts.

Let’s take a look at the conjugation chart of tener in this tense below:

PronounTener ConjugationEnglish Meaning
YoHubiere tenido I have had 
Hubieres tenido You have had 
VosHubieres tenido You have had 
Él/Ella/UstedHubiere tenido He/She has had, You have had 
NosotrosHubiéremos tenido We have had 
VosotrosHubiereis tenido You have had 
Ellos/Ellas/ UstedesHubieren tenido They have had, You have had 

Here are some example sentences showing how to conjugate tener in the future perfect subjunctive tense:

  • No creo que él hubiere tenido una mascota en su vida. (I don’t think he has had a pet in his life.)
  • Me alegra que hubiereis tenido una buen fin de semana. (I’m happy you’ve had a good weekend.)
  • Espero que no hubieres tenido ningún problema encontrando la dirección. (I hope you haven’t had any issues finding the address.)

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Pluperfect Subjunctive

We use the pluperfect subjunctive to speak about an action that happened before another action in the past. It helps us express wishes, desires, or possibilities of the past. It’s often used to describe what could have or should have been, but wasn’t.

The following is a conjunction chart for tener in pluperfect subjunctive:

PronounTener ConjugationEnglish Meaning
YoHubiera/ Hubiese tenido I had had 
Hubieras/ Hubieses tenido You had had 
VosHubieras/ Hubieses tenido You had had 
Él/Ella/UstedHubiera/ Hubiese tenido He/She/You had had 
NosotrosHubiéramos/ Hubiésemos tenido We had had 
VosotrosHubierais/ Hubieseis tenido You had had 
Ellos/Ellas/ UstedesHubieran/ Hubiesen tenidoThey had had, You had had 

Here are some example sentences showing how to conjugate tener in the pluperfect subjunctive tense:

  • Si hubiera tenido la posibilidad, habría estudiado en España. (If I’d had the chance, I would’ve studied in Spain.)
  • Ojalá hubieseis tenido más tiempo para visitarnos. (I wish you’d had more time to visit us.)
  • Hubiéramos tenido tiempo de hacer el trabajo, pero nos avisaste muy tarde. (We’d had the time to do the work but you let us know too late.)

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How to Conjugate Tener in the Imperative Tense

Similar to English, we mostly use the imperative mood in Spanish to give commands or orders. It also helps us make requests, give recommendations, or even give instructions. You’ll notice that when using this tense in its positive form, we use the conjugated verb tener alone. When using it in its negative form, we add “ o” before the negative conjugation.

This is how you conjugate tener in imperative tense:

PronounTener Conjugation (Affirmative)Tener Conjugation (Negative)English Meaning
¡Ten!¡No tengas!(You) Have/Don’t have!
Vos¡Tené!¡No tengás!(You) Have/Don’t have!
Él/Ella/Usted¡Tenga!¡No tenga!(You) Have/Don’t have!
Nosotros¡Tengamos!¡No tengamos!(Let’s) Have/Don’t have!
Vosotros¡Tened!¡No tengáis!(You) Have/Don’t have!
Ellos/Ellas/ Ustedes¡Tengan!¡No tengan!(You) Have/Don’t have!

Here are some example sentences showing how to conjugate tener in the imperative tense:

  • ¡Tengamos un perro! (Let’s have a dog!)
  • No tengamos un perro con mucho pelo, por favor. (Let’s not have a furry dog, please.)
  • Tened un poco de dinero en efectivo cuando visiteis el parque. (Have some cash when you visit the park.)

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Tips for Conjugating Tener Correctly

Conjugating irregular verbs such as tener can seem like a hard task at first. But don’t let that discourage you from your Spanish learning journey! Here are a few tips to help you master the conjugations of tener.

You’ll probably notice soon after starting to learn about the Spanish verb tener that it most often means to have. However, don’t get alarmed if you see tener being used to describe other verbs in English. When talking about emotions or feelings, tener can be translated as “to be” or “to keep.” Tener is an incredibly versatile verb. Once you get to know all of the different ways it’s used, you’ll start using it all the time!

When practicing the different conjugations of tener, try to use them when speaking with native speakers or identify them in conversations, songs, or movies in Spanish. This is a verb that is used in both formal and informal scenarios quite often. The more you identify it in day-to-day Spanish, the easier it’ll become to use and understand it. Here are two common expressions you can use when practicing this verb: “¡Ten cuidado!” which nearly means “Be careful!” and “¡Ten un buen día!” which means “Have a good day!”. You can learn even more common tener expressions here.

Ways to Practice Conjugating Tener

Tener is one of the most commonly used verbs in Spanish, so it’s necessary to learn how to use it. The best way to learn and remember is to practice. Fortunately, there are many ways to practice Spanish no matter how you prefer to learn. One of the most common ways is to use a Spanish language app. They are interactive and can help you learn vocabulary and basic grammar quickly. But if you want more explanation, a self-study book or an online course is a better choice.

However way you choose to learn, it’s important to dedicate the time and effort to master the material. Learning Spanish verb conjugations is often one of the most difficult aspects for English speakers to figure out. But with time and patience, you’ll know all the ways to use tener!

Tener Conjugation FAQ

How do you conjugate the verb tener?

To conjugate the verb tener, it’s helpful to identify whether you want to use a form of past, present, or future. The time marker you use to express your idea can help you find the appropriate tense among the three different moods used in Spanish: the indicative, the subjunctive, and the imperative.

What is the past tense of tener?

There are several past tense forms of tener but the most common ones are “tuve” and “tenía.” The first is the preterite tense and the second is the imperfect tense. These two tenses will be the most helpful when using tener in a past tense form.

What verb is teniendo?

Teniendo is the gerund conjugation of the verb tener. We use it to describe an action that is taking place now. For instance, to say “I am having a good day” we’d use the gerund of tener and say “Estoy teniendo un buen día.”

What does the verb tener mean?

The verb tener for most often means “to have.” It’s used to talk about possession, feelings, or physical characteristics. We also use tener to describe somebody’s age. For instance, “I am 10 years old” translates to “Tengo 10 años”.

María José Escobar

Maria is a Business Engineering student from Colombia who is passionate about learning. She loves traveling the world and connecting with different cultures. Her dream is to be a world citizen and help others learn about the things she loves, including Spanish, her native language, and her culture. Connect with Maria on LinkedIn.

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