Spanish Verb Cenar Conjugation

Cenar Conjugation, Usage, and Examples

Mom & child having meal in Korean restaurant
La niña cena con su madre en un restaurante. (The girl eats dinner with her mother at a restaurant). Images By Tang Ming Tung / Getty Images

The Spanish verb cenar means to eat dinner or to have dinner. It is a regular -ar verb, like caminar or parar. This article includes tables with cenar conjugations in the present, past and future indicative, and the present and past subjunctive, as well as the imperative mood. You can also find other verb forms like the gerund and present participle.

Using the Verb Cenar

The verb cenar can be used whenever you would talk about eating dinner, having dinner, or dining. It is similar to the verbs desayunar (to have breakfast) and almorzar (to have lunch), in that a single verb communicates eating a certain meal, unlike in English where you have to use the verb to eat, followed by the specific meal.

You can use the verb cenar as an intransitive verb, as in Ella cena en el restaurante (She eats dinner at the restaurant) or Nosotros cenamos temprano (We eat dinner early). However, you can also use cenar as a transitive verb, where the direct object expresses what you eat for dinner, as in Me gusta cenar pasta (I like to have pasta for dinner). 

Cenar Present Indicative

Yo ceno I have dinner Yo ceno con mi familia.
cenas You have dinner Tú cenas en tu apartamento.
Usted/él/ella cena You/he/she has dinner Ella cena en el restaurante.
Nosotros cenamos We have dinner Nosotros cenamos comida china.
Vosotros cenáis You have dinner Vosotros cenáis muy tarde.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas cenan You/they have dinner Ellos cenan a las 7 p.m.

Cenar Preterite Indicative

There are two past tense conjugations in Spanish: the preterite and the imperfect. The preterite is used to talk about completed actions or events that have a defined ending in the past. 

Yo cené I had dinner Yo cené con mi familia.
cenaste You had dinner Tú cenaste en tu apartamento.
Usted/él/ella cenó You/he/she had dinner Ella cenó en el restaurante.
Nosotros cenamos We had dinner Nosotros cenamos comida china.
Vosotros cenasteis You had dinner Vosotros cenasteis muy tarde.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas cenaron You/they had dinner Ellos cenaron a las 7 p.m.

Cenar Imperfect Indicative

The imperfect tense is used to talk about background events and ongoing or habitual actions in the past. It can be translated to English as "was eating dinner" or "used to eat dinner." 

Yo cenaba I used to have dinner Yo cenaba con mi familia.
cenabas You used to have dinner Tú cenabas en tu apartamento.
Usted/él/ella cenaba You/he/she used to have dinner Ella cenaba en el restaurante.
Nosotros cenábamos We used to have dinner Nosotros cenábamos comida china.
Vosotros cenabais You used to have dinner Vosotros cenabais muy tarde.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas cenaban You/they used to have dinner Ellos cenaban a las 7 p.m.

Cenar Future Indicative

Yo cenaré I will have dinner Yo cenaré con mi familia.
cenarás You will have dinner Tú cenarás en tu apartamento.
Usted/él/ella cenará You/he/she will have dinner Ella cenará en el restaurante.
Nosotros cenaremos We will have dinner Nosotros cenaremos comida china
Vosotros cenaréis You will have dinner Vosotros cenaréis muy tarde.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas cenarán You/they will have dinner Ellos cenarán a las 7 p.m.

Cenar Periphrastic Future Indicative

Yo voy a cenar I am going to have dinner Yo voy a cenar con mi familia.
vas a cenar You are going to have dinner Tú vas a cenar en tu apartamento.
Usted/él/ella va a cenar You/he/she is going to have dinner Ella va a cenar en el restaurante.
Nosotros vamos a cenar We are going to have dinner Nosotros vamos a cenar comida china.
Vosotros vais a cenar You are going to have dinner Vosotros vais a cenar muy tarde.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas van a cenar You/they are going to have dinner Ellos van a cenar a las 7 p.m.

Cenar Conditional Indicative

The conditional tense is used to talk about conjectures or possibilities. For example, Cenaría en casa si tuviera comida (I would eat dinner at home if I had food). Note that there is always an accent mark on the í in the conditional endings.

Yo cenaría I would have dinner Yo cenaría con mi familia si vivieran cerca.
cenarías You would have dinner Tú cenarías en tu apartamento si tuvieras comida.
Usted/él/ella cenaría You/he/she would have dinner Ella cenaría en el restaurante, pero es muy caro.
Nosotros cenaríamos We would have dinner Nosotros cenaríamos comida china si nos gustara.
Vosotros cenaríais You would have dinner Vosotros cenaríais muy tarde, pero os da hambre temprano.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas cenarían You/they would have dinner Ellos cenarían a las 7 p.m., pero deben marcharse.

Cenar Present Progressive/Gerund Form

For regular -ar verbs, to form the present participle or gerund you need the ending -ando. One of the uses of the present participle is to form the progressive tenses, such as the present progressive.

Present Progressive of Cenar: está cenando 

She is having dinner -> Ella está cenando en el restaurante.

Cenar Past Participle

For regular -ar verbs, to form the past participle you need the ending -ado. One of the uses of the past participle is to form compound tenses, such as the present perfect

Present Perfect of Cenar: ha cenado 

She has had dinner -> Ella ha cenado en el restaurante. 

Cenar Present Subjunctive

To talk about subjective situations such as emotions, doubts, desires, and possibilities, you need the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive is used in sentences that have two clauses: the main clause has a verb in the indicative mood, and the subordinate clause has a verb in the subjunctive mood.

Que yo cene That I have dinner Carlos quiere que yo cene con mi familia.
Que tú cenes That you have dinner Marta quiere que tú cenes en tu apartamento.
Que usted/él/ella cene That you/he/she have dinner Manrique quiere que ella cene en el restaurante.
Que nosotros cenemos That we have dinner Miguel quiere que nosotros cenemos comida china.
Que vosotros cenéis That you have dinner Melisa quiere que vosotros cenéis muy tarde.
Que ustedes/ellos/ellas cenen That you/they have dinner Marco quiere que ellos cenen a las 7 p.m.

Cenar Imperfect Subjunctive

The use of the imperfect subjunctive is similar to that of the present subjunctive, but it is used in situations that happened in the past. There are two ways of conjugating the imperfect subjunctive.

Option 1

Que yo cenara That I had dinner Carlos quería que yo cenara con mi familia.
Que tú cenaras That you had dinner Marta quería que tú cenaras en tu apartamento.
Que usted/él/ella cenara That you/he/she had dinner Manrique quería que ella cenara en el restaurante.
Que nosotros cenáramos That we had dinner Miguel quería que nosotros cenáramos comida china.
Que vosotros cenarais That you had dinner Melisa quería que vosotros cenarais muy tarde.
Que ustedes/ellos/ellas cenaran That you/they had dinner Marco quería que ellos cenaran a las 7 p.m.

Option 2

Que yo cenase That I had dinner Carlos quería que yo cenase con mi familia.
Que tú cenases That you had dinner Marta quería que tú cenases en tu apartamento.
Que usted/él/ella cenase That you/he/she had dinner Manrique quería que ella cenase en el restaurante.
Que nosotros cenásemos That we had dinner Miguel quería que nosotros cenásemos comida china.
Que vosotros cenaseis That you had dinner Melisa quería que vosotros cenaseis muy tarde.
Que ustedes/ellos/ellas cenasen That you/they had dinner Marco quería que ellos cenasen a las 7 p.m.

Cenar Imperative 

The imperative mood is used to give direct orders or commands. Therefore, there are commands for all the persons except for the first person singular yo and third person él, ella, ellos, ellas. Notice that the affirmative and negative commands differ for tú and vosotros.

Positive Commands

cena Have dinner! ¡Cena en tu apartamento!
Usted cene Have dinner! ¡Cene en el restaurante!
Nosotros cenemos Let's have dinner! ¡Cenemos comida china!
Vosotros cenad Have dinner! ¡Cenad muy tarde!
Ustedes cenen Have dinner! ¡Cenen a las 7 p.m.!

Negative Commands

no cenes Don't have dinner! ¡No cenes en tu apartamento!
Usted no cene Don't have dinner! ¡No cene en el restaurante!
Nosotros no cenemos Let's not have dinner! ¡No cenemos comida china!
Vosotros no cenéis Don't have dinner! ¡No cenéis muy tarde!
Ustedes no cenen Don't have dinner! ¡No cenen a las 7 p.m.!