Spanish Idioms that Use Tener

Although the Spanish verb tener literally means “to have,” in some very commonly used Spanish idiomatic expressions, tener means “to be” or may have another, unexpected meaning. Be careful, when writing, not to use the verbs ser or estar (to be) in these idiomatic expressions:

Spanish Idioms Using Tener
Spanish Idiom English Translation
tener calor to be warm, hot
tener sed to be thirsty
tener frío to be cool, cold
tener lugar to take place
tener celos de to be jealous of
tener miedo de to be afraid of
tener cuidado to be careful
tener prisa to be in a hurry
tener dolor de . . . to have a . . . ache
tener razón to be right
tener éxito to succeed
tener sueño to be sleepy
tener ganas de to feel like
tener suerte to be lucky
tener hambre to be hungry

The following example uses tener suerte: Tienes mucha suerte. (You are very lucky.)

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