Explanation

Getting to Know Saber and Conocer

In Spanish, there are two verbs that can express the idea of knowing: saberand conocer. It's important to know the differences between the two because they're not interchangeable. Let's learn the meaning of these two very important verbs!

Saber

Saber is used to talk about facts or learned skills. You can use it to talk about information you've memorized or to say you are able to swim, draw, speak a language, etc.

Saber Present Indicative Forms

Here are the conjugations of saber in the present indicative.

SubjectPresent Tense Form
yo
sabes
él, ella, usted
sabe
nosotros
sabemos
vosotros
sabéis
ellos, ellas, ustedes
saben
Present Tense Form
yo
sabes
él, ella, ustedsabe
nosotrossabemos
vosotrossabéis
ellos, ellas, ustedessaben

Now that you know how to conjugate saber, check out these examples.

Expressing Knowledge

examples
¿Sabes si Juanita está casada?
Do you know if Juanita is married?
¿Sabes dónde hay un buen café?
Do you know where there's a good cafe?

Expressing Ability

examples
hablar español.
I can speak Spanish.
Anita no sabe nadar.
Anita can’t swim.

To express an ability to do something, use saber plus an infinitive. For example, Yo sé cocinar.(I can cook.)

Conocer

Conocer is used to express familiarity (or lack thereof) with a person, place, or thing. For example you can know, or be familiar with, a book, a movie, a country, or a certain person.

Conocer Present Indicative Forms

Here are the conjugations of conocer in the present indicative.

SubjectPresent Tense Form
yo
conozco
conoces
él, ella, usted
conoce
nosotros
conocemos
vosotros
conocéis
ellos, ellas, ustedes
conocen
Present Tense Form
yoconozco
conoces
él, ella, ustedconoce
nosotrosconocemos
vosotrosconocéis
ellos, ellas, ustedesconocen

Now that you know how to conjugate conocer, check out these examples.

examples
Conozco un buen sitio para ver la puesta del sol.
I know a good place to watch the sunset.
Conoce una película que tal vez te interese.
He knows a movie that may interest you.
No conocemos Madrid.
We're not familiar with Madrid.
¿Conoces a mi amiga Melissa?
Do you know my friend Melissa?

The personal a must be used after conocer when talking about a person.

Additional Uses

Now that you've learned the main differences between saber and conocer, here are some additional uses you should keep in mind when using these verbs.

Saber and Conocer in the Preterite

In the preterite, both saber and conocer can have other meanings. Saber conjugated in the preterite can mean found out, and conocer conjugated in the preterite can translate as met.

Check out the following examples.

examples
Mis padres nunca supieron la verdad.
My parents never found out the truth.
Conocí a mi novio en un partido de fútbol.
I met my boyfriend at a soccer game.

Saberse

To say you know something from memory/by heart, use saberse.

Take a look at this example.

examples
Mi teléfono es el único que se sabe de memoria.
My phone number is the only one he knows by heart.

Conocer in Reciprocal Sentences

Conocer can be used with a reciprocal pronoun to refer to two or more people knowing or meeting each other.

Check out these examples.

examples
Todavía no nos conocemos muy bien.
We still don’t know each other very well.
Paulina y Santiago se conocieron en la universidad.
Paulina and Santiago met in college.

Expressions Using the Verb Saber

In Spanish, we have a number of set phrases that use the verb saber. Here are a few good ones to know!

Phrase in SpanishMeaning in English
lo sé
I know
no saber ni papa de algo
to not know the first thing about something
que yo sepa
as far as I know
para que lo sepas
just so you know
¡qué sé yo!
how should I know!
sin saberlo yo
without my knowledge
vete a saber
your guess is as good as mine
a saber
who knows
de haberlo sabido
if I’d only known
Looking for the old quiz?
Take the old "Saber" vs. "Conocer" quiz here.
Start Quiz Now
SpanishDict is the world's most popular Spanish-English dictionary, translation, and learning website.
© Curiosity Media Inc.
SOCIAL NETWORKS
APPS