Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Even more on tener

The last two posts talked about the verb 'tener', its conjugation and some of its uses. It was a long while before I realised that as well as meaning 'to have' it also translates in many cases to the four letters 'tain'. Although not a word in itself in English it is a fragment, or ending, to many other verbs. Meaning that not only is it easy to translate these verbs into Spanish, it is easy to conjugate them as well as long as you know how to conjugate 'tener'. Be careful to note though that the translations are not always perfect matches, and that there are some exceptions e.g. pertain = pertenecer not pertener.

Some examples of 'tain' words and their translations:

obtain = obtener
detain = detener
entertain = entretener
retain = retener
maintain = mantener
sustain = sostener
contain = contener
abstain = abstener

And some examples of their uses:

obtienes el libro = you obtain (or get) the book
contiene agua = it contains water
dejame entretenerte = let me entertain you
me detengo aquí = I stop here (literally - I detain myself here)
tienes que mantener el equilibrio = you have to maintain (keep) your balance - one from my ski teaching career

There are many more examples, but if you can remember the rule of thumb that any variation of 'tener' found in another word tends to mean 'tain' it is much easier to deduce what certain Spanish words mean.

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