Using the verb tener in El Imperfecto vs. El Indefinido

The verb tener changes its meaning depending on whether it is used in El Pretérito Imperfecto or in El Pretérito Indefinido.

Read and listen to these examples with verb tener in El Pretérito Imperfecto:

Marcos tenía un coche nuevo.
Marcos had a new car.

El pueblo tenía muchos visitantes.
The village had many visitors.

In the examples above, there is no definite beginning or end for the actions.

Now, read and listen to these examples with verb tener in El Pretérito Indefinido:

Marcos tuvo un coche nuevo.
Marcos received a new car.

El pueblo tuvo muchos visitantes.
The village received many visitors.

In the examples above, the verb "tener" is used with a stronger nuance meaning "to get" or "to receive". Moreover, it conveys the idea that the situations described above are no longer current, and that at the moment of speaking things are different.

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

El pueblo tuvo muchos visitantes.
The village received many visitors.


Marcos tuvo un coche nuevo.
Marcos received a new car.


El pueblo tenía muchos visitantes.
The village had many visitors.


Marcos tenía un coche nuevo.
Marcos had a new car.


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