Spanish Verbs to Know
Saber and conocer can both be translated by the English verb “to know,” but they are used in completely different situations.
Saber means "to know a fact" or "to know how to do something." It is often followed by an infinitive or a subordinate clause.
|No sé la respuesta.||I don’t know the answer.|
|¿Sabéis francés?||Do you know French?|
|Sabemos cocinar.||We know how to cook.|
In the pretérito, saber means
"to learn" or "to find out:"
|Supe el secreto ayer.||I learned/found out the secret yesterday.|
|Ya supo.||He already found out.|
Conocer means "to know someone" or "to be familiar with someone," "something," or "somewhere." It can only be followed by a direct object, never by an infinitive or a subordinate clause.
|No conocen la obra de Cervantes.||They’re not familiar with Cervantes’ work.|
|¿Ud. conoce Barcelona?||Are you familiar with Barcelona?|
Remember that if the direct object is a person, the personal preposition a must be used.
|Conozco a tu padre.||I know your father.|
|No cononce a mis amigos.||He doesn’t know my friends.|
In the pretérito, conocer means "to meet someone for the first time."
|Juan conoció a su novia en Costa Rica.||Juan met his girlfriend in Costa Rica.|
|Conocí a Carlos el año pasado.||I meet Carlos last year.|
Saber vs conocer Quizzes
Think you’ve got it? Test yourself on saber vs conocer: