In addition to using tener to talk about what we have, we often use tener to express the way we feel. These are phrases that we use everyday. Use them with your child to model the verb tener in its different forms.
Comment on how you feel before you ask your child a question in Spanish. This provides a context for the question, and also models how the question will be answered.For example, you can say Tengo sueño (I’m sleepy) and yawn to clarify what you are saying. Then when you ask ¿Tienes sueño? she will understand what you are asking.
Tener hambre – to be hungry
Tengo hambre. ¿Tienes hambre tú? / I am hungry. Are you hungry?
¡Tengo mucha hambre! – I’m very hungry. (It is mucha because hambre is feminine.)
Tener sed – to be thirsty
Tengo sed. ¿Tienes sed? ¿Quieres agua? / I am thirsty. Are you thirsty? Do you want some water?
Tengo mucha sed. – I am very thirsty. (It is mucha because sed is feminine).
Tener sueño – to be sleepy
Tengo sueño. Quiero dormir. ¿Tienes sueño?
Tener ganas de + infinitive– to feel like doing something
¿Qué tienes ganas de hacer? / What do you feel like doing?
Tengo ganas de jugar. ¿Tienes ganas de jugar? / I feel like playing. Do you feel like playing?
The first stanza of Los pollitos, a traditional children’s song, offers an excellent example of these phrases. Learning just those lines, or the entire song, children will produce natural, correct Spanish.
You can listen to this traditional children’s song in Spanish here. There are many other versions online. Here are the words and a translation of this version.
Los pollitos / The chicks
Los pollitos dicen, / The chicks say
pío, pío, pío, / pío, pío, pío
cuando tienen hambre, / when they are hungry
cuando tienen frío. / when they are cold.
La gallina busca / The hen looks for
el maíz y el trigo. / corn and wheat.
Les da la comida / She gives them food
y les presta abrigo. / keeps them warm.
Bajo sus dos alas / Under her two wings,
acurrucaditos, / all curled up,
duermen los pollitos / the chicks sleep
hasta el otro día. / until the next day.