Tener as Auxiliary Verb  

Present Indicative Verb Tener - to have

The verb is a word by which we affirm something. It is the essential word in a sentence: without it (expressed or understood) no sentence can be formed. Verbs are divided into Auxiliary, Transitive and Intransitive. The Auxiliary verbs in Spanish are: Haber, Tener, Ser, Estar.

Tener is generally a principal (not an auxiliary) verb, used to denote possession; but it is used sometimes as an auxiliary instead of haber, as:

  • Tengo recibido su catálogo ilustrado y lista (or boletín) de precios.
    I have received your illustrated catalogue with price list.
  • Tenemos recibida [2] su apreciable carta de 20 del que rige (or del corriente).
    We have received your favour of the 20th inst.
  • ¿Tiene usted recibidas las cotizaciones?
    Have you received the quotations?
  • Los presupuestos, que tenemos recibidos del Trapiche para nuestro Ingenio de la Habana.
    The estimates which we have received for the Sugar Mill for our Factory in Havana.

In all the preceding examples tener used instead of haber introduces an additional idea of possession.

"He recibido su carta" might be followed, in Spanish, by "pero la he perdido" (but I have lost it). "Tengo recibida su carta" implies that the receiver holds it now.

Footnote 2: The Past Part. following "tener" agrees in gender and number with the direct object.
Sometimes this idea of possession is very distantly implied, as:
  • ¿Qué me dice Usted? tengo leído ese proyecto de Ley.
    What are you talking about? I have read that (Parliamentary) Bill.

Meaning that the effect of the reading is extant in the mind.

Colloquially the people will use tener for haber without any allusion to possession, but this should be avoided.

We have compiled an exhaustive Spanish verbs list for your review.

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