Understanding the Spanish Idiom: "tener en cuenta" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: Spanish

Tener en cuenta is a common expression in Spanish that can be translated as “to take into account” or “to bear in mind.” It is used to indicate that something should be considered when making a decision or taking action.

For example, if someone is planning a trip to Spain and wants to know what clothes to pack, they might ask a friend who has been there before. The friend might say, Tienes que tener en cuenta que el clima puede ser muy variable, which means, “You have to take into account that the weather can be very unpredictable.”

How is “tener en cuenta” used in context?

The phrase tener en cuenta can be used in many different contexts. Here are some examples:

  • Cuando hagas tu presupuesto para el mes, tienes que tener en cuenta tus gastos fijos.
  • Si vas a comprar un coche nuevo, tienes que tener en cuenta los costes de mantenimiento.
  • Tenemos que tener en cuenta las opiniones de todos los miembros del equipo antes de tomar una decisión importante.

In each of these examples, the speaker is emphasizing the importance of considering certain factors before making a decision or taking action.

Origins and Historical Context of the Spanish Idiom “tener en cuenta”

The Spanish language is rich in idiomatic expressions that have been passed down through generations. These expressions often have a cultural or historical significance that reflects the values and beliefs of the people who use them. One such expression is tener en cuenta, which translates to “take into account” or “bear in mind”.

The Origins of “tener en cuenta”

The exact origins of this idiom are unclear, but it is believed to have originated in medieval Spain. During this time, merchants and traders would keep detailed records of their transactions, taking into account various factors such as market conditions, supply and demand, and political stability. The phrase tener en cuenta may have been used by these merchants to refer to the importance of considering all relevant factors when making business decisions.

The Historical Context of “tener en cuenta”

Over time, the meaning of tener en cuenta expanded beyond its original commercial context to encompass a broader range of situations where careful consideration was required. For example, during the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834), individuals accused of heresy were expected to confess their sins and express contrition before being granted leniency by church authorities. In this context, “tener en cuenta” took on a more ominous connotation as a warning to those who might be tempted to withhold information or deceive their interrogators.

English Spanish
To take into account Tener en cuenta
To bear in mind Tener presente
To consider Considerar

In modern times, tener en cuenta is used in a variety of contexts, from personal relationships to professional settings. It remains an important expression in the Spanish language, reflecting the cultural values of careful consideration and thoughtful decision-making.

Usage and Variations of the Spanish Idiom “tener en cuenta”


Tener en cuenta is commonly used when someone wants to remind others about something they should keep in mind. For example, if you are planning a trip with friends and one of them suggests going somewhere that is too expensive for everyone, you might say: “Tengamos en cuenta que no todos pueden pagar ese lugar” (Let’s keep in mind that not everyone can afford that place).

Another way this idiom can be used is when giving advice or recommendations. If someone asks for your opinion on what to wear to an event, you might say: Debes tener en cuenta el código de vestimenta del evento (You should take into account the dress code of the event).


While tener en cuenta is the most common variation of this idiom, there are other ways it can be expressed depending on the context. Some examples include:

– Tomar en cuenta: This means the same as tener en cuenta and can be used interchangeably.

– Tener presente: This variation emphasizes the importance of remembering something. For example, if you’re giving a presentation at work and want to make sure everyone remembers a key point, you might say: Es importante tener presente que nuestra meta es aumentar las ventas este trimestre (It’s important to remember that our goal is to increase sales this quarter).

– Contemplar: This variation implies considering all possible options before making a decision. For example, if you’re trying to decide which restaurant to go to with friends, you might say: Debemos contemplar todas las opciones antes de decidir (We should consider all options before deciding).

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Spanish Idiom “tener en cuenta”

When it comes to understanding a foreign language, it’s not just about memorizing vocabulary and grammar rules. It’s also important to learn idioms that are unique to that language and culture. One such idiom in Spanish is tener en cuenta, which can be translated as “to take into account” or “to bear in mind”. But what are some other words or phrases that convey a similar meaning? And how does this idiom reflect the cultural values of Spanish-speaking countries?


There are several synonyms for tener en cuenta in Spanish, including:

  • Considerar – to consider
  • Ponderar – to weigh up
  • Tener presente – to keep in mind
  • No olvidar – not to forget

These words all suggest the importance of taking something into consideration before making a decision or taking action.


On the other hand, there are also antonyms (opposite meanings) for tener en cuenta that might be useful to know:

  • Ignorar – to ignore
  • Descartar – to discard/reject
  • No hacer caso de – not to pay attention/heed
  • Dar la espalda a – turn one’s back on/dismiss completely

While these words may seem negative, they can still provide insight into when it might be appropriate NOT to take something into account.

Practical Exercises for the Spanish Idiom “tener en cuenta”

Here are some practical exercises to help you become more comfortable with using tener en cuenta in your everyday conversations:

  • Write down five different situations where you would use the phrase “tener en cuenta.” For example, when giving advice, making plans, or discussing options.
  • Create a dialogue between two people where they use the phrase at least three times each. This will help you see how the phrase can be naturally incorporated into conversation.
  • Watch a movie or TV show in Spanish and take note of how often characters use the phrase. Try to identify why they are using it and what context it is being used in.
  • Practice translating sentences from English into Spanish that include “take into account” or “bear in mind.” This will help reinforce your understanding of how to properly use the phrase.

By practicing these exercises regularly, you’ll soon find yourself feeling more confident when using the Spanish idiom tener en cuenta. Remember that mastering idioms takes time and practice, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t come easily at first. Keep practicing and soon enough, you’ll be able to incorporate this useful expression seamlessly into your conversations!

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Spanish Idiom “tener en cuenta”

When using idioms in a foreign language, it’s easy to make mistakes. The Spanish idiom tener en cuenta is no exception. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when using this phrase:

1. Not Understanding Its Literal Translation

The literal translation of tener en cuenta is “to have in mind.” It’s important to understand this meaning because it can help you use the phrase correctly in different contexts.

2. Overusing It

Tener en cuenta is a useful phrase, but overusing it can make your speech or writing sound repetitive and dull. Try to vary your vocabulary and use other phrases that convey similar meanings.

Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: