Some keys about uses of the verbs 'haber' and 'tener' in Spanish.
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The verbs ‘haber’ and ‘tener’ in Spanish

The verbs ‘haber’ and ‘tener’ in Spanish are two different verbs, not as in the English language, to name a language. You must learn, then, how we use them. In this post, we tell you with examples that will help you differentiate them:



Uses of  the verb ‘haber’

a) With the meaning of duty or convenience

He de prepararme para el mañana.  (I have to prepare for tomorrow.)

Habré de conformarme con lo que suceda. (I will have to settle for what happens.)

Habrá que estudiar muy bien el caso. (We have to study/ We shall study the case very well.)

b) as auxiliary of the perfect tenses (haber+ participle) of the rest of the verbs

He escrito este post. (I have written this post.)

Había estado muy callado. (I /he/ she had been very quiet.)

Lo había probado todo. (I/ he/she had tried everything.)

c) With the meaning of occurring or carrying out

Hubo un error en el diagnóstico. (There was an error in the diagnosis.)

No hubo auditoría alguna. (There was no audit.)

Hubo irregularidades en las elecciones.  (There were irregularities in the elections.)

Hubo una celebración por todo lo alto. (There was a big celebration.)

d) in the sense of being necessary with hay+ que + infinitive

Hay que segar el césped. (You have to mow the lawn.)

Habrá que preparar la cena. (You will have to to prepare dinner.)

Hay que leer más.  (You have to read more.)

e) with the sense of obligation with haber +de+ infinitive (tener que)

He de reconocer que tienes razón.  (I have to admit that you’re right.)

Hubimos de sentarnos muy lejos.  (We had to sit very far away.)

Hemos de ahogar las penas.  (We have to drown our sorrows.)

Uses of the verb tener

a) with the meaning of possession

Tengo un coche grande.  (I have a big car.)

Tengo todo lo que necesito.  (I have everything I need.)

Tendré mejores oportunidades.  (I will have better chances.)

b) with the meaning of duty or obligation with tener +que+ infinitive:

Tendrás que limpiar el despacho. (You will have to clean the office.)

Tienes que prestar atención. (You have to pay attention.)

Tienen que repetirlo todo. (They have to repeat everything.)

Tienen que ser útiles a la empresa.  (They have to be useful to the company.)

Tienen que divulgar el conocimiento. (They have to divulge knowledge.)

c) to speak and say the age:

Tienen más años que nosotros. (They are older than us.)

Tiene cuatro años. (He/ she is four years old.)

Ya tiene la mayoría de edad. (He/ she is already of legal age.)

Tiene 80 años. (He/ she is 80 years old.)


Pía Valls/ PracticaEspañol


Bibliography: For the preparation of this post we have consulted the pan-Hispanic dictionary of doubts of the RAE


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