Leçons Espagnol


Que Used in Common Phrases - Tener que

The Spanish word que: how can such a tiny word be so complicated? A pronoun that translates as "who," "which," "whom," and "that." A conjunction that translates as "that," "then," "so," "if," or even "of" and has many other uses that simply don't have a direct translation in English. How should we tackle the topic? Maybe let's start with some useful common phrases, the most popular ones that use this tiny word, and take it from there.


The word que is combined with certain verbs very often. For example, with the verb tener (to have). Tener que is used to express a necessity or an imperative, or simply put, that something must be done.


Tienes que trabajar sábado y domingo.

You have to work Saturday and Sunday.

Caption 36, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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You have to learn how to conjugate the verb tener, of course. You would find this expression more frequently in the indicative mood, like in the example above, but you can also find it in the subjunctive:

Es posible que tenga que quedarme algún día más en Barcelona.

It's possible that I may have to stay one more day in Barcelona.

Caption 52, Raquel - La Compra de un Billete de Tren

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But be careful, there's an idiomatic expression that uses the same construction, always combined with the verb ver (to see) and the preposition con (with). Tener que ver con (literally "to have to see with”) is used to establish a relationship or connection. Most of the time this expression is preceded by another que (meaning "that"). We have a lesson on this topic, but let's analyze additional examples:

Espero que por favor practiquen todo lo que tiene que ver con

I hope that you please practice everything that has to do with

conjunciones disyuntivas y copulativas.

disjunctive and copulative conjunctions.

Caption 45, Lecciones con Carolina - Conjunciones copulativas

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Keep in mind that it is also possible to use the verb ver (to see, to look) combined with tener que to simply express a necessity (literally "to have to see") and not as an idiom:

...y, eh... también tengo que ver el tráfico del sitio.

...and, um... I also have to look at the site's traffic.

Caption 53, Carlos Quintana - Guía de musica latina

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Note that, in this case, you won't use the preposition con (with). If you were to add it, then you would be using the idiom tener que ver con (to have to do with). Tengo que ver con el tráfico del sitio means "I have something to do with the site's traffic."
And there's another idiom that may get in your way here. You can also use tener que ver con meaning "to have to deal with something." The expression is not very common because we also have the verbs enfrentar (to face) and lidiar (to deal), but here's an example:

ahora tengo que... tengo que ver con las consecuencias.

now I have to... I have to deal with the consequences.

Caption 27, La Sub30 - Familias

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From this idiom comes a threatening expression: te las tendrás que ver con... (you will have to deal with...). For example: Si lastimas a Jenny te las tendrás que ver conmigo (if you hurt Jenny you will have to deal with me). Keep in mind that Spanish allows for a playful use of the relative pronouns, so you can also say: Si lastimas a Jenny tendrás que vértelas conmigo, which is actually more common.


¡Esta lección tuvo que ver solamente con una frase que combina ”que” con el verbo “tener”!
This lesson was only about one phrase that combines “que” with the verb “to have”!
We'll explore more phrases in future lessons. Stay tuned! Tweet us @yabla or send your topic suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.


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