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Saber vs Conocer - When to use?

11 Apr, 2017 Popular Articles
Saber vs Conocer - When to use?0 votes. 0 / 5

There are two verbs that you can use to say “to know” in Spanish, “saber” and “conocer”. And just like in English, there are some words that share the same meaning but are not interchangeable and the word that you choose to use depends much on the context. So what’s the difference between saber and conocer? When to use saber and conocer? Let’s find out!

Saber vs Conocer

Saber vs conocer definition and difference

Definition of Saber and Conocer 

1. When to use Saber

Saber should be used if you want to:

  • Express knowledge, ignorance, a fact, information about something, or learned skills
  • Talk about information that you’ve memorized or to say you know how to do something

Note: To express the knowledge of how to do something, use “saber” plus an infinitive

  • Say that you know something by heart

Examples:

Anita no sabe nadir - Anita doesn’t know how to swim
María sabe conducir - Maria knows how to drive
María sabe los verbos irregulares - Maria knows the irregular verbs (by heart)

Different forms of “saber” in the present indicative – Saber conjugations

  • Yo (I) - sé
  • Tú (you) (informal) - sabes
  • Él, ella (He/she), usted (you – formal) - sabe
  • Nosotros (we) - sabemos
  • Vosotros (you – informal) - sabéis
  • Ellos, ellas, ustedes (you – formal) – saben

You may want to see Spanish present simple tense usage and verb conjugation

2. When to use Conocer

The verb "conocer" comes from the same root as the English words: "cognition" and "recognize," which generally means "to be familiar with." 

  • Conocer is used to express acquaintance or familiarity with a person, a place, or an object.

Note: The personal “a” must be used after “conocer” when talking about a person.

And just like “saber”, “conocer” must match the noun that it modifies in both gender and number

Forms of conocer in the present indicative

  • Yo (I) - conozco
  • Tú (you) (informal) - conoces
  • Él, ella (He/she), usted (you – formal) - conoce
  • Nosotros (we) - conocemos
  • Vosotros (you – informal) - conocéis
  • Ellos, ellas, ustedes (you – formal) – conocen

Saber and Conocer verb conjugation

Saber and conocer verb conjugation

Examples:

Yo no conozco a María - I don’t know (am not acquainted with) Maria.
Conoce una película que tal vez te interese - He knows a movie that may interest you.

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