What is the difference between tengo que and an infinitive (tengo que limpiar “I have to clean”) and just tengo limpiar…(I have + to clean)? They both translate to the same English sentence.

  • 2
    Are you absolutely sure tener limpiar is grammatical? The other one is fine.
    – mdewey
    Dec 5, 2023 at 13:23
  • tengo que hacer x is to have to do something. tengo infinitive is not grammatical in Spanish.
    – Lambie
    Dec 5, 2023 at 19:47

1 Answer 1


Although the translation of have is tener, in this particular case, the meaning of the word is important in Spanish. Here it has the meaning of need or must. When tener is used as in need you always need to add que to introduce the next statement.

  • Tengo que limpiar. (I need to clean.)
  • Tendré que hacerlo yo mismo. (I will need to do it myself.)
  • Tengo que preguntarte algo. (I need to ask you something.)

You can find the complete definition here.

The construction verb + infinitive is fine but you must change the verb

  • Debo limpiar
  • Necesitaré hacerlo yo mismo
  • Quiero preguntarte algo

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