When we want to express pain in Spanish we use two kinds of expressions:

1.- We use the verb DOLER (to ache)

Ex.- Me duele la cabeza (My head aches)

2.- We use the verb TENER + the noun DOLOR + the preposition DE (I have a (something) ache)

Ex.- Tengo dolor de cabeza (I have a headache)

1.- The verb DOLER is conjugated in the same way as GUSTAR, that is, there are only 2 forms of the verb: one for singular, "DUELE", and one for plural, "DUELEN". These forms are combined with the Indirect object pronouns in order to express the different persons. The end result is as follows:

1st p. sing ME DUELE/N
2nd p. sing TE DUELE/N
3rd p. sing LE DUELE/N
1st p. pl NOS DUELE/N
2nd p. pl OS DUELE/N
3rd p. pl LES DUELE/N

The form "DUELE" is used with singular items such as "cabeza, pie, dedo, etc." whereas "DUELEN" is used with plural items such as "piernas, brazos, muelas, etc."

2.- The phrase "TENER DOLOR DE" is always combined with a noun which can be singular or plural. The verb "TENER" is conjugated to express person.

Ex. Tengo dolor de cabeza (I have a headache)
  Tienes dolor de estómago (You have a stomachache)

How to Talk About Symptoms and Illnesses

We use the verb "TENER" when we want to talk about our symptoms or a specific illness.


Ex. Tengo gripe I have the flu
  Tengo alergia I have an allergy
  Tengo bronquitis I have bronchitis
  Tengo apendicitis I have appendicitis
  Tengo un resfriado I have a cold


Ex. Tengo fiebre I have a fever
  Tengo escalofríos I am shivering
  Tengo un sarpullido I have a rash
  Tengo vómitos I am vomiting
  Tengo tos I have a cough
  Tengo la nariz taponada My nose is blocked

When we are talking about how we feel physically (or mentally) we use the verb "ESTAR"

Ex. Estoy enfermo I am ill
  Estoy agotado I am exhausted
  Estoy mareado I am dizzy
  Estoy nervioso I am nervous


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