Spanish verb Tener que (To have to): Spanish Lesson 49

Reading Time: 3 minutes

This is the first lesson in our intermediate level Spanish course and we are going to learn how to use the Spanish verb Tener que (To have to). We have already learned the verb Tener which translates to To have in English. Tener que is similar, but means To have to rather than To have.

The Spanish verb Tener que is a very useful one to learn. We use it to express obligation or necessity. It is a relatively straightforward Spanish verb to learn and use, once you know how to conjugate the verb Tener. After Tener que always follows another verb in infinitive. Infinitive is a word which describes the base form of a verb without any conjugation, as you would see in a dictionary.

Spanish verb Tener que (To have to)

Here’s how to conjugate Tener que (To have to):

Tener que + infinitivo: To have to + infinitive

(Yo) Tengo que…: I have to…
(Tú) Tienes que…: You have to… (informal)
(Usted) Tiene que…: You have to… (formal)
(Él/Ella) Tiene que…: He/She has to…
(Nosotros) Tenemos que…: We have to…
(Vosotros) Tenéis que…: You have to… (group/informal)
(Ustedes) Tienen que…: You have to… (group/formal)
(Ellos) Tienen que…: They have to…

spanish verb tener que

Practice sentences with the Spanish verb Tener que

Here are some practice sentences with Tener que for all persons:

Tengo que estudiar: I have to study
Tienes que trabajar más: You have to work more
Usted tiene que trababjar más: You have to work more
Marta tiene que ir a Madrid: Marta has to go to Madrid
Tenemos que hablar: We have to talk
Tenéis que comer pescado: You have to eat fish
Ustedes tienen que comer pescado: You have to eat fish
Marcos y Pablo tienen que visitar a sus padres: Marcos and Pablo have to visit their parents

Questions and negatives

Next let’s see some example sentences using Tener que with questions and negatives. As always with Spanish, making questions and negatives is very easy:

Hola, Pablo. ¿Quieres venir al cine esta noche conmigo?: Hi Pablo, do you want to come to the cinema with me tonight?
Lo siento, Silvia. No puedo. Tengo que estudiar: Sorry, Silvia. I can’t. I have to study.
¡Estudias demasiado Pablo! No tienes que estudiar todas las noches: You study too much Pablo! You don’t have to study every night.
¿No recuerdas? Tenemos que estudiar esta noche porque tenemos un examen de física muy importante mañana: Don’t you remember? We have to study tonight because we have a very important physics exam tomorrow.
Sara va al cine conmigo. Si Sara no tiene que estudiar, yo tampoco: Sara is coming to the cinema with me. If Sara doesn’t have to study neither do I
Sara no tiene que estudiar esta noche porque Sara es muy buena en física: Sara doesn’t have to study tonight because Sara is very good at Physics.
¿Y yo no soy buena en física? ¡Qué maleducado!: And I am not good at physics? How rude!
Tú tienes que usar esta noche para estudiar Silvia: You have to use tonight to study Silvia.

We hope you found this lesson useful. Tener que is one of those Spanish verbs that you will find yourself using often. It’s a handy one to know and nice and easy to use as for sure you are already familiar with using the verb Tener and you only have use a verb in infinitive after Tener que.

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