Spanish expressions: “Tener hambre…”, “tener sed…”

tener hambre spanish expressions 1

“Tener” is a very versatile Spanish verb we use frequently. It’s among the most popular verbs and it can help us build other helpful phrases.

In Spanish, there are several ways to express that you’re thirsty or hungry. One way to do it is using “tener hambre” and “tener sed”.

We could say that these two phrases are equivalent to “I’m hungry” or “I’m thirsty” but the Spanish structure demands to use “tener” = (to have).

In this short explanation, we will teach you how to use “tener” to express what you feel and how “tener” works together with nouns like “hambre” and “sed”.

How to use “tener”

The first thing to learn is how to use “tener”. As we previously said, it’s the Spanish translation of “to have”.

We can conjugate “tener” in different tenses. However, one of the most used is the present tense.

Please, see below “tener” conjugations in the present indicative tense:

Verb conjugation
Tener To have
Yo tengo I have
Tú tienes You have
Él/Ella/Usted tiene He/She/It/You (formal) has/have
Nosotros tenemos We have
Vosotros tenéis You (plural) have
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes tienen They/You (plural) have

Generally, we use “tener” together with nouns. It may help us to express our needs, our current mood, and many other things.

Let’s see a few examples:

Tengo ansiedad.

I have anxiety.

Tengo dolor de cabeza, trabajé mucho anoche.

I have a headache, I worked a lot last night.

Tenemos felicidad de ver a Marta triunfar.

We are happy to see Marta succeed.

Rafael tiene mucha hambre. ¿Cuándo vamos a comer?

Rafael is very hungry. When are we going to eat?

Ellos tienen muchas sed porque estuvieron jugando tenis toda la tarde.

They are very thirsty because they were playing tennis all afternoon.

How to use “tener hambre”

If you’re someone who loves to eat, this will definitely be your Spanish favorite phrase.

Using this expression is an easy-breezy task. You only need to conjugate “tener” in any tense you want to use and add the Spanish “hambre”. This is equivalent to the English expression “I’m hungry”.

In Spanish, we can also say “estoy hambriento”. However, it isn’t as common as “tengo hambre”.

If you conjugate “tener” in the present or past tense, you’re expressing how you feel at the moment, or how you felt. Still, when we conjugate “tener hambre” in the future tense, we often do it conditionally.

First, let’s have a look at some examples using the present and past tense:

Tenía hambre porque eran las 3:00 PM y no había desayunado.

I was hungry because it was 3:00 PM and I hadn’t had breakfast.

Rafael y Ernesto tenían hambre luego de correr por el parque toda la tarde.

Rafael and Ernesto were hungry after running around the park all afternoon.

Marta tiene hambre. Me dijo que quiere comer pasta en Da vinci, el famoso restaurant italiano.

Marta is hungry. He told me he wants to eat pasta at Da Vinci, the famous Italian restaurant.

¡Tenemos mucha hambre!

We’re very hungry!

As you may see, we can also add the modifier “mucha” to emphasize how hungry we are. If you have ever felt hungry enough that you feel you’re about to die, don’t be scared. We got you.

In that context, “estoy hambriento” is the best alternative. We can also build negative sentences by just adding “no” before “tener”.

For example, “no tengo mucha hambre”.

Now let’s see a few examples using the future tense and the conditional “si”:

Estoy seguro que tendremos hambre luego de ir al gimnasio. Frecuentemente, me pasa.

I’m sure we’ll be hungry after going to the gym. Frequently, it happens to me.

Si Carlos no cena, tendrá mucha hambre al levantarse mañana.

If Carlos doesn’t eat dinner, he will be very hungry when he gets up tomorrow.

Si no como dentro de poco, tendré mucha hambre en la tarde.

If I don’t eat soon, I will be very hungry in the afternoon.

See? Since we are talking about how we will feel, we must add a condition to the sentence. Otherwise, it has no sense. In some cases, Spanish speakers use the future form of “tener hambre” to make questions to themselves or wonder.

For example, it’s completely correct to ask ¿tendrá Marta hambre? . To see if Marta is hungry.

Using the future tense to make questions adds an impersonal tone because you aren’t making the question to the subject involved in the question.

How to use “tener sed”

“Tener sed” is the Spanish equivalent to “to be thirsty”. We use “tener sed” and “tener hambre” similarly but, of course, the meaning is different.

To build sentences using “tener sed”, you only have to conjugate “tener” properly.

If you use the future tense to build any sentence using “tener sed”, it also has a wondering connotation. So, if you want to confirm if someone is thirsty, don’t hesitate to use the future form of tener sed.

Building negative sentences using “tener sed” isn’t difficult because adding “no” will help you get the job done. With “tener sed”, we can also use modifier words like “mucha” or “poca”.

If you build a negative sentence using “no” + “mucha” + “tener sed”, it still means that you or something is thirsty, but not that much.

Let’s look at the following examples to get a clearer picture of how easy is to use “tener sed”:

¡Tengo mucha sed! Necesito tomar agua.

I’m so thirsty! I need to drink water.

¿Ellos tendrán sed? Deberíamos llevarles algo de tomar.

Will they be thirsty? We should get them something to drink.

Carla tenía mucha sed. Le dijo a Jesús que no había tomado agua en todo el día.

Carla was very thirsty. He told Jesus that he had not drunk water all day.

Tenemos poca sed.

We are not very thirsty.

No tienen mucha sed.

They are not very thirsty.

How to use “deber/poder” + “tener hambre/sed”

Finally, let’s learn how to use “deber” and “poder” together with “tener hambre” and “tener sed”. Different from the rest of the cases, if you add “deber” or “poder” before “tener hambre” or “tener sed”, you have to conjugate “tener” in the infinitive form.

To build negative sentences using this structure, we also can add “no” but, in this case, it should go before “deber” or “poder”.

Let’s see some other examples:

Deberías tener mucha hambre.

You should be very hungry.

Camila puede tener mucha hambre.

Camila may be very hungry.

No estoy seguro, pero es probable.

I am not sure, but it is likely.

Los niños deben tener hambre. No han almorzado.

The children must be hungry. They haven’t had lunch.

As you may realize, we use “deber” and “poder” to add uncertainty to what we say.

It means that if you use the structure (“deber”/”poder” + “tener hambre/sed”), you want to know if what you say is true or if you think it may be true based on something else.

As a result, we use this structure to wonder or suggest.

You can practice this topic with some activities, click here!

Spanish important phrases

Generally speaking, you can use “tener hambre” and “tener sed” in almost any scenario. If you’re a sports individual, probably “tener sed” will be your favorite. On the other hand, if you love to eat, probably “tener hambre” will become your best friend.

Don’t forget to use “tener” in the infinitive form if you use “deber” or “poder” in the same sentence.

And, keep in mind that using “mucha” to emphasize how you feel is a great alternative.

Now, if “tienes hambre” or “tienes sed”, go and get what you need from the fridge!

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