Mantener: Conjugation & Translation

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

The Spanish verb ''mantener'' means both 'to keep' and 'to maintain'. Learn to use this verb in the present tense through some very practical examples you are likely to hear in daily life conversations.

Using Mantener Correctly

Do you keep your promises? Do you keep your things in good condition? Do you maintain good relations with your neighbors? Do you maintain a correct posture when you are in front of a laptop?

Santiago is from Costa Rica and when we ask him these questions, he responds using the verb mantener (mahn-teh-NEHR), which means both 'to keep' and 'to maintain'. Before we see his replies, let's learn to conjugate mantener in the present tense.

Common uses of the verb mantener include but are not limited to mantener las promesas (to keep promises), mantener a una persona (to financially maintain/support a person), mantener el orden (to keep in order), mantener la calma (to keep calm), mantener el equilibrio (to maintain balance), etc.

Conjugation of Mantener

Remember to use the preset tense of mantener to express usual or habitual situations as well as facts.

While the chart with the conjugation below is easy to learn, here is a motivating tip for you: the verb tener (to have) is a very common Spanish verb. If you are familiar with tener in the present tense, then you already know how to conjugate the verb mantener. Just remember to add the root man in front. Here is the conjugation:

Verb mantener (mahn-teh-NEHR) - to keep / maintain

Mantener Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
yo mantengo mahn-TEHN-goh I keep/maintain
mantienes mahn-tee-EH-nehs you (singular/informal) keep/maintain
mantiene mahn-tee-EH-neh he/she/you (singular/formal) keep(s)/maintain(s)
mantenemos mahn-teh-NEH-mohs we keep/maintain
mantenéis mahn-teh-NEH-ees you (plural/informal) keep/maintain
mantienen mahn-teeh-EH-nehn they/you (plural/formal) keep/maintain

Translation: Birds maintain balance even on the thinnest branches.

Daily Conversation Examples

Now, back to Santiago. He tells us about himself:

  • Mi cualidad más notoria es que yo siempre mantengo mis promesas. (My most notable quality is that I always keep my promises.)
  • También, para vivir tranquilos, mi esposa y yo mantenemos buenas relaciones con los vecinos. (Also, to live a tranquil life, my wife and I keep good relations with our neighbors.)

Regarding health, Santiago says:

  • Trabajo en la computadora todo el día y no mantengo una buena postura. (I work on the computer all day and I do not maintain a good posture.)
  • En cambio, mi esposa y mis hijos siempre mantienen una buena postura en la computadora. (Conversely, my wife and my sons always keep a good posture on the computer.)

As far as financial concerns, Santiago tells us:

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