Spanish verbs be and have (verbos ser y tener) are two of the most used verbs in Spanish. You have to use them from the very first time you speak to another person: ¡Hola! Soy Miriam y tengo 14 años. If you want to know how to conjugate and use them, keep reading.
Ser y tener conjugations
Ser y tener are irregular verbs. What does it mean? It means that you have to learn by heart each form because the basic part of the word changes:
- Yo soy/tengo
- Tú eres/tienes
- Él/ella es/tiene
- Nosotros somos/tenemos
- Vosotros sois/tenéis
- Ellos son/tienen
Ser y tener uses in Spanish: examples
The first thing you have to know is that the verb “to be” in Spanish can be ser or estar, that’s the difference between “I’m boring” and “I’m bored” (soy aburrido/estoy aburrido). But in this post, we are just talking about ser and its uses. Moreover, there are a lot of examples of the verb “to be” translated as tener in Spanish. That’s why it can be pretty confusing: to be tired (estar cansado), but to be sleepy (tener sueño). Sometimes, the same sentences can be translated into two different ways: to be patient (ser paciente, tener paciencia); to be afraid (estar asustado, tener miedo).
But there’re some sentences that clearly need one of the verbs and cannot have the other one. One very common mistake Spanish speakers make while talking in English is saying “I have 18 years” – instead of “I’m 18 years old”. That’s because they translate it literally from Spanish. So, English speakers do it as well when they speak in Spanish and say “Yo soy 18 años”. The correct form is tengo 18 años.
Do this online activity and discover other uses for verbs ser and tener.