Tener Conjugation 101: Conjugate Tener in Spanish

Tener is one of the most common verbs in Spanish. For that reason, you need to learn its different forms. So, in this guide, you’ll learn how to conjugate ‘tener’ in the most common tenses. Here is what you’ll learn:

Take Note: There are many tenses in Spanish. However, we don’t use them all. Many are simply old and outdated. As a result, in this guide, you’ll only learn the tenses you need to know to become fluent in Spanish. 

Overview of Tener

Verb CharacteristicProperty
Verb Type-ER
Gerund (Present Participle) FormTeniendo
Past Participle FormTenido
SynonymsPoseer, Deber


  • Present: teng (only for ‘yo)
  • Preterite: tuv
  • Future & Conditional: tendr
  • Present Subjunctive: teng
  • Imperfect Subjunctive: tuv
  • Affirmative Imperative: ten / teng
  • Negative Imperative: teng

Stem Changes: E to IE

  • Present Tense: tien for ‘tú’, ‘ella/él/usted’, ‘ellos/ellas/ustedes’.   

Take Note: Although tener is the direct translation of ‘to have’, this verb is not used to form perfect tenses. To build these tenses, you must use the verb haber instead. If you want to learn more about these verbs, you should check my article on tener vs haber

Indicative Conjugations of Tener

Present tense

The present form of ‘tener’ has stem-changes from E to IE. These spelling changes are not applicable to ‘nosotros’, ‘vosotros’ and ‘yo’. ‘Nosotros’ and ‘vosotros’ follow a regular conjugation. 

However, the yo form of ‘tener’ is irregular. For this subject, you’ll use the stem ‘teng-’.  In the present tense, this verb is used to say your age or to talk about obligations or possessions. For instance: yo tengo dos perros.

YoTengoI have
TienesYou have
Él / Ella
TieneHe/She has
You (formal) have
NosotrosTenemosWe have
VosotrosTenéis You have
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasTienenThey/You have

Preterite tense

‘Tener’ in the preterite form is irregular. To conjugate this tense, you must use the stem ‘tuv’. The preterite of ‘tener’ is used to talk about things you owned or obligations you performed in the past. Here is an example: tuve que limpiar mi cuarto. 

YoTuveI had
TuvisteYou had
Él / Ella
TuvoHe/She had
You (formal) had
NosotrosTuvimosWe had
VosotrosTuvisteisYou had
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasTuvieronThey/You had

Imperfect tense

In the imperfect tense, ‘tener’ is regular. The imperfect form of ‘tener’ is used to say people’s age and talk about possession in the past. For example: en 1991, Sharon tenía diez años. 

YoTeníaI had
TeníasYou had
Él / Ella
TeníaHe/She had
You (formal) had
NosotrosTeníamosWe had
VosotrosTeníaisYou had
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasTeníanThey/You had

Near future

With tener, the near future is used to talk about things you’ll own or must do in the immediate future. This tense is formed with ir (present) + a + tener and can be translated as “going to have”. Este fin de semana vamos a tener una fiesta.  

YoVoy a tenerI’m going to have
Vas a tenerYou’re going to have
Él / Ella
Va a tenerHe/She is going to have
You (formal) are going to have
NosotrosVamos a tenerWe’re going to have
VosotrosVais a tenerYou’re going to have
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasVan a tenerYou/They’re going to have

Future simple tense

‘Tener’ in the future tense has an irregular conjugation. To build this form, you must use the stem tendr and add the future endings. The simple future allows you to talk about the age, obligations or things you’ll have at some point in the future. Esta semana no tendré tiempo. 

YoTendréI will have
TendrásYou will have
Él / Ella
TendráHe/She will have
You (formal) will have
NosotrosTendremosWe will have
VosotrosTendréisYou will have
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasTendránThey/You will have

Conditional tense

Like the future, ‘tener’ in the conditional tense is formed with the stem tendr. The conditional form of ‘tener’ communicates that someone would must do or would own something if certain conditions are met. Si me ayudas, tendría más tiempo. 

YoTendríaI would have
TendríasYou would have
Él / Ella
TendríaHe/She would have
You (formal) would have
NosotrosTendríamosWe would have
VosotrosTendríaisYou would have
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasTendríanYou/They would have

Present perfect tense

Tener in the present perfect is formed with the verb ‘haber’ and the participle form of ‘tener’ (tenido). This tense is used to talk about the things someone owned in a moment close to the present. For instance, esta semana no he tenido tiempo. 

YoHe tenidoI have had
Has tenidoYou have had
Él / Ella
Ha tenidoHe/She has had
You (formal) have had
NosotrosHemos tenidoWe have had
VosotrosHabéis tenidoYou have had
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasHan tenidoThey/You have had

Past perfect

To conjugate ‘tener’ to the past perfect tense, you need to use the imperfect form of haber 

and tenido, which is the past participle form of ‘tener’. The past perfect of this verb expresses that you had to do or owned something before some other reference point in the past. Hasta ahora nunca habíamos tenido un gato. 

YoHabía tenidoI had had
Habías tenidoYou had had
Él / Ella
Había tenidoHe/She had had
You (formal) had had
NosotrosHabíamos tenidoWe had had
VosotrosHabíais tenidoYou had had
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasHabían tenidoThey/You had had

Future perfect

The future perfect of ‘tener’ is built by conjugating haber to the future tense and adding the past participle of ‘tener’ (tenido). This verb in the future perfect tense communicates you’ll own or must do something by or before a certain time in the future. 

YoHabré tenidoI will have had
Habrás tenidoYou will have had
Él / Ella
Habrá tenidoHe/She will have had
You (formal) would have had
NosotrosHabremos tenidoWe will have had
VosotrosHabréis tenidoYou will have had
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasHabrán tenidoThey/You will have had

Conditional perfect

The conditional perfect of ‘tener’ describes obligations you would have done or things you would have owned if a past circumstance was met. This tense is formed by conjugating ‘haber’ to the conditional tense and adding the past participle tenido. For example: habría tenido más tiempo si me hubieras ayudado.

YoHabría tenidoI would have had
Habrías tenidoYou would have had
Él / Ella
Habría tenidoHe/She would have had
You (formal) would have had
NosotrosHabríamos tenidoWe would have had
VosotrosHabríais tenidoYou would have had
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasHabrían tenidoThey/You would have had

Progressive tenses

The progressive tenses in Spanish refer to actions that are in progress at the moment of speaking. The progressive forms of ‘tener’ communicate what someone is having right now. The structure to form these tenses is estar (conjugated) + gerund form of tener (teniendo). 

Progressive TenseFormulaTranslation Example
PresentEstar (present) + teniendoI am having
PreteriteEstar (preterite) + teniendoYou were having
ImperfectEstar (imperfect) + teniendoHe was having
FutureEstar (future) + teniendoWe will be having
ConditionalEstar (conditional) + teniendoThey would be having

‘Tener’ Subjunctive Conjugations

The simple forms of the subjunctive of ‘tener’ are irregular. Overall, the subjunctive forms of ‘tener’ are used to give suggestions or talk about hypothetical situations related to age, possession or obligations. 

Present subjunctive

In the present subjunctive, ‘tener’ uses the stem teng (the same stem you use to form the conjugation for ‘yo’ in the present indicative). The present subjunctive of ‘tener’ is commonly used to wish someone to have something. For example: que tengas un buen día. 

YoTengaI have
TengasYou have
Él / Ella
TengaHe/She has
You (formal) have
NosotrosTengamosWe have
VosotrosTengáisYou have
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasTenganThey have

Present perfect subjunctive

Haber in the present subjunctive + tenido is the structure you should use to build the present perfect subjunctive form of ‘tener’. The present perfect subjunctive of ‘tener’ is used to talk about wishes and probabilities. For example, espero que hayas tenido un buen día. 

YoHaya tenidoI have had
Hayas tenidoYou have had
Él / Ella
Haya tenidoHe/She has had
You (formal) have had
NosotrosHayamos tenidoWe have had
VosotrosHayáis tenidoYou have had
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasHayan tenidoThey/You have had

Imperfect subjunctive

In Spanish, the imperfect subjunctive is conjugated with the verb stem you use to form the preterite tense. In other words, ‘tener’ in the imperfect subjunctive is built with the stem tuv.

This tense expresses wishes or hypothetical situations that are difficult to accomplish. Si tuviera más tiempo, aprendería a tocar el ukelele. 

The imperfect subjunctive has two conjugation models depending on which type of Spanish you’re using:

Latin American Spanish version

YoTuvieraI had
TuvierasYou had
Él / Ella
TuvieraHe/She had
You (formal) had
NosotrosTuviéramosWe had
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasTuvieranYou/They had

Castilian Spanish version

YoTuvieseI had
TuviesesYou had
Él / Ella
TuvieseHe/She had
You (formal) had
NosotrosTuviésemosWe had
VosotrosTuvieseisYou had
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasTuviesenYou/They had

Note: The table above doesn’t include the conjugation for vosotros because this pronoun is not used in Latin American Spanish. 

Past perfect subjunctive

The past perfect subjunctive of ‘tener’ can be used to talk about what would have happened if you had owned something. These are hypothetical situations that can no longer happen because their time has passed. For example si hubiera tenido…(If I had had). 

YoHubiera tenidoI had had
Hubieras tenidoYou had had
Él / Ella
Hubiera tenidoHe/She had had
You (formal) had had
NosotrosHubiéramos tenidoWe had had
VosotrosHubierais tenidoYou had had
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasHubieran tenidoThey/You had had

‘Tener’ Imperative Conjugations

The Spanish imperative allows you to give affirmative and negative commands, in other words, telling people what to do or not to do. 

Affirmative commands

To form affirmative commands with ‘tener’, you’ll use the stems ‘ten’ (for ‘tú’ and ‘vosotros’) and the present subjunctive (teng) stem for the rest of the subject pronouns. The affirmative imperative of tener is used to command someone to have or own something. ¡Tengan paciencia!

UstedTengamosLet’s have

Negative commands

The negative imperative of ‘tener’ uses the same conjugations as the present subjunctive. The negative imperative of tener is used to command people to not have something. For instance: no tengas mascotas, por favor. 

No tengasDon’t have
UstedNo tengamosDon’t have
VosotrosNo tengáisDon’t have
UstedesNo tenganDon’t have

Meanings of ‘Tener’ & Examples

Now that you know how to conjugate ‘tener’ in all tenses, it’s time for you to check its different applications. In addition to the meanings, I’ll include some sentences using ‘tener’ so you understand how to apply this verb. 

Uses of ‘tener’

  • To say someone’s age – To be

[‘Tener’ conjugated] + [number]

Yo tengo treinta y un años.
I am thirty-one years old.

En 1997, Celia tenía veinticinco años.
In 1997, Celia was twenty five years old.

  • To talk about obligations – To have to / To must

[‘Tener’ conjugated] + que + [verb in infinitive form]

Tuve que limpiar las ventanas otra vez.
I had to clean the windows again.

Lo siento, tiene que hablar con el gerente.
I’m sorry, you must talk to the manager.

Si no hubiera terminado, habría tenido que venir el lunes.
If I hadn’t finished, I would have had to come on Monday.

  • To express possession – To have 

[‘Tener’ conjugated] + [noun]

En un año, ustedes tendrán dos hijos.
In one year, you will have two kids.

Hace tiempo tuve un par de gatitos.
A while ago, I had a couple of kittens.

No creo que Claudia haya tenido problemas.
I don’t think Claudia has had issues.

  • To talk about symptoms or feelings – To have / To be

[‘Tener’ conjugated] + [symptom]

Ayer tuve fiebre.
I had a fever yesterday.

Tenemos hambre, vamos a comer.
We are hungry, let’s go eat.

He tenido dolor de cabeza todo el día.
I have had a headache all day.

Download Tener Conjugation Tables & Uses Cheat sheets

Memorizing all of these tenses for conjugating tener along with all of the verb’s stem changes and irregularities takes time. I’ve created a PDF for you to download containing all of the conjugation tables, verb characteristics, and uses so you can study it at your own pace!

Practice Quiz: Tener Conjugations

Now that you’ve learned all of these tenses, it’s time to put them into practice. Take the tener conjugation quiz to boost your conjugation skills and get instant feedback on which tenses you’ve mastered and those that need work.

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I've been studying Spanish professionally as well as teaching it in Mexico and online for over 10 years. I’ve taught Spanish to a wide array of foreigners from many backgrounds. Over the years, I've made it my mission to work hard on refining many challenging to understand grammar topics to make my students' learning experiences easier, faster and more enjoyable. Read More About Me

Recent Posts

Pin It on Pinterest