Saber vs. Conocer

In Spanish, there are two verbs that can express the idea “to know.” There are slight differences between these verbs which are good to know for a more fluent speech. The word you choose depends on the context in which it is used and they are not interchangeable.

Conocer

Conocer Indicative Present Forms

conocer - to know, to be acquainted with 
conozco conocemos
conoces conocéis
conoce conocen
Conocer Uses

To express knowledge (or lack of knowledge) about something or someone means that we have some experience with the thing (or person). You can know, or be acquainted with, a book, a movie, a place, or a person.

  • Conozco un buen sitio para ver la puesta del sol. (I know a good place to watch the sunset.)
  • Conoce una película que te interesará. (He knows a movie that would interest you.)
  • No conocemos Madrid. (We are not acquainted with Madrid.)
  • ¿Conoces a mi amiga Melissa? (Do you know my friend Melissa?)

The use of the preposition a is always required when the direct object is a person.

Saber

Saber Present Indicative Forms

saber - to know 
sabemos
sabes sabéis
sabe saben

Saber Uses

Saber is used to talk about learned skills. You can know how to swim, draw, speak a language, etc. It is also used to ask about knowing a bit of information about something, or knowing something by memory. To express the knowledge of how “to do” something, use saber plus an infinitive.

  • hablar español. (I know how to speak Spanish.)
  • Anita no sabe nadar. (Anita doesn’t know how to swim.)
  • ¿Sabes que Stephanie es casada? (Do you know if Stephanie is married?)
  • ¿Sabes dónde hay un buen café? (Do you know where a good cafe is?)

Exceptions

Sometimes, conocer and saber can be interchangeable. When you are expressing the fact of having knowledge or ideas about a subject or science, either saber or conocer is acceptable. It is also acceptable to use either saber or conocer to express the finding out of new information or news.

  • Sabe/Conoce mucho de la teoría de la relatividad. (He knows a lot about the theory of relativity.)
  • Hoy todo el mundo se sabe/se conoce las noticias. (Today the whole world knows the news.)

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