French Verb Tenir

There are so many ways to use the French verb “tenir”.  It’s a very commonly used verb, and it’s conjugated just like “venir”.  When you look it up in the dictionary, it says it means “to hold”, but hold on . . . There’s a lot more to this verb than that! Scroll down for a free lesson guide all about the irregular French verb tenir.

“Tiens” and “tenez” can be used in a variety of ways depending on the context of the sentence.

Most common ways to use the French verb tenir:

As an interjection to express surprise or interest:

“Tiens, voilà ton livre!”

Hey, here’s your book!

“Tenez, c’est pour vous.”

Here you go, it’s for you.

To hold or give something to someone:

“Tiens, prends cette pomme.”

Here, take this apple.

“Tenez-moi ça s’il vous plaît.”

Hold this for me, please.

To indicate a change of topic or direction in conversation:

“Tiens, à propos de ça…”

Speaking of that…

“Tenez, en parlant de vacances…”

Speaking of holidays…

To express an idea or opinion:

“Tiens, je crois que tu as raison.”

Hey, I think you’re right.

“Tenez, je pense que c’est une mauvaise idée.”

Well, I think it’s a bad idea.

To express an order or command:

“Tiens-toi bien!”

Hold on tight!

“Tenez-vous tranquille!”

Be quiet!

Expressing surprise or excitement:

“Tiens, je ne savais pas que tu étais là!”

Oh, I didn’t know you were here!

“Tenez, vous revoilà!”

Oh, you’re back!

Getting someone’s attention:

“Tiens, ton carnet!”

Here’s your notebook!

“Tenez, madame, votre parapluie!”

Here you go, madam, your umbrella!

Offering or handing something to someone:

“Tiens, voilà le livre que tu m’as demandé.”

Here, here’s the book you asked for.

“Tenez, je vous ai préparé des sandwichs.”

Here, I made you some sandwiches.

Expressing agreement:

“Tiens, c’est une bonne idée.”

Hey, that’s a good idea!

“Tenez, vous avez bien raison.”

Oh, you’re quite right.

Making a suggestion:

“Tiens, et si nous allions au cinéma ce soir?”

Hey, how about going to the movies tonight?

“Tenez, et si on mangeait chez l’Indien pour le déjeuner?”

Hey, how about eating at the Indian restaurant for lunch?

As you can see from all of these examples, it’s important to know that the French verb “tenir” means so much more than just “to hold”.  It’s so versatile, and for that reason I’m sure you can start using it right away!