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Google.Translate.com translated the following:

It has several YouTube videos.

Cuenta con varios vídeos de YouTube.

This caught me off guard, as I was anticipating for Google to translate this as:

Tiene varios vídeos de YouTube.

So, I'm well aware that in any language, there are multiple ways to express the same idea.

So my question is, how common is it for native speakers of Spanish to use "contar con" versus "tener".

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Yes, it is quite common, and a great word to incorporate to one's vocabulary. It is pretty much the same as 'tener':

From the RAE:

  • Tener: 2. Poseer.

  • Contar CON: 10. Tener, disponer de una cualidad o de cierto número de personas o cosas.

I would describe "contar con" (besides the evident meaning of "to count with/on") as "to be equipped with", "to be fitted with", "to have something at hand":

  • El laboratorio cuenta con productos de alta tecnología.

The lab is equipped with high technology products.

  • El coche cuenta con un excelente sistema de refrigeración interna.

The car is fitted with an excellent system of internal refrigeration.

  • Los estudiantes cuentan con un servicio de ayuda para lo que necesiten.

Students have a helping service at hand for everything they need.

As you can see, all sentences can be made substituting the verbs used by the verb 'to have' and the meaning remains essentially the same. Some situations where "contar con" is not applicable as a synonym for "to have" are when speaking of age ("Tengo 10 años", and never "Cuento con 10 años"), about scheduled events ("Tengo una reunión", and never "Cuento con una reunión"), opinions ("Te tengo como una buena persona", and never "Te cuento como una buena persona"), obbligations ("Tengo que irme", and never "Cuento con irme"), and as a synonym for 'to hold' ("Tenme la chaqueta", and never "Cuenta con mi chaqueta").

Note: "contar con" can actually be used as "tener" when speaking about someone's age, but only in very literary contexts (poetry or such):

"Contaba con tan sólo veinte primaveras cuando le llegó la muerte", meaning he was only 20 when he died.

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  • Excellent answer! I'll take your advice and will equip my vocabulary to include 'contar con'. – Rock Anthony Johnson Dec 20 '15 at 4:57
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    @RockAnthonyJohnson Es decir, contarás con la expresión contar con en tu vocabulario :) But take into account that it is a little bit formal. – Gorpik Dec 30 '15 at 8:58

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