Tengo que lavar los trastes

Sometimes there are things that we just have to do.  Well, if you ever need to tell someone what that something you have to do is in Spanish, then you’ll need the expression tener que.

Tener by itself means “to have”.

Tengo 21 años
I’m 21

Tengo dos coches
I have two cars

Add the word que after it and now it means to have to.

Tengo que lavar los trastes
I have to wash the dishes

Tengo que recoger mi madre del aeropuerto
I have to pick my mom up from the airport

You may be thinking “Doesn’t que mean what?”

Well you’re right, it does.  But combine it with the word tener and the meaning changes.  Don’t try and figure it out, it’s an idiomatic expression and you just have to memorize it.

Tienes que memorizarlo
You have to memorize it

You’ll hear tener que a lot, and if you actually use your Spanish in real life you’ll end up using it a lot so commit this one to memory.

Here’s a link to a free podcast on tener que.  Be sure to go get your free lesson right away because it won’t be free forever.   It’s a great podcast and it actually has even more great Spanish you need to know like the Spanish contraction al and the verb quedarse. You’ll also learn about the word enamorados (people in love).

In fact, if you want to learn more about enamorados and how to talk about the different stages of romance, then take a look at this blog post on my sister blog:

Soy muy noviera

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