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
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
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
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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