Saber vs. Conocer - they both mean "to know" in Spanish?

Saber vs. Conocer – they both mean “to know” in Spanish?

Did you know…there are two verbs in Spanish to express what you or someone knows.

Saber versus Conocer. Do you know when to use each one?

These verbs are not interchangeable – their use depends on the context.

Do you know which verb to use in the following sentences? Saber or Conocer?

  • You want to express that you “know” a person. (conocer)
  • You want to say that you met someone (in the past). (conocer)
  • You found out something you did not know before (in the past). (saber)
  • You want to say that you’ve been to that city before and are familiar it; you know it. (conocer)
  • You know all about that new restaurant, you know what’s on the menu, the quality of service, where to park, etc. (saber)
  • You are an all knowing yoga guru. You know a lot about it and are the expert. (saber)

So how did you do?

Watch this Quick Tip lesson and learn when to use SABER and CONOCER

So how do you know which verb to use? It all depends on…CONTEXT

Let’s look at some examples below:

  • Ella sabe mucho sobre la salud mental.
  • Yo conozco Costa Rica.
  • Ellos saben todo sobre Costa Rica.
  • Mis hijos saben esquiar.
  • *Hace 20 años, conocí al actor Jim Carey. 
  • Mis papás saben usar la computadora para iniciar reuniones de Zoom.
  • Caleb no conoce a sus compañeros de cuarto.
  • *Rory supo que tiene que tener cirugía el próximo mes.

*In the preterite tense, these verbs change meaning.

Let’s look at the specific uses of Saber and Conocer.

Uses of SABERUses of CONOCER
To know:To know:
– Facts
– Information
– How to do something (saber + infinitive)
– To be an expert or guru on something
– In the past (preterite tense), Saber means “to find out, discover”
– To be acquainted with (to know)
– To know a person
– To be familiar with a place
– To know a particular thing (I know that perfume, I used to have that same scent)

Watch the lesson to get all the details about these two verbs and be sure to download the lesson notes and take the quiz to test your knowledge.

¡Te toca a ti! Let’s practice…

Grab a piece of paper and quiz yourself.

Ejercicio #1:

Which verb do you use for these contexts below…

  1. ¿Qué tienes que _________ (saber / conocer) para tu trabajo?
  2. ¿_________ (saber / conocer) alguien que trabaja para Google?
  3. ¿_________ (saber / conocer) ustedes el edificio nuevo de Crocs?
  4. ¿_________ (saber / conocer) bailar la cumbia?
  5. Ellos _________ (saber / conocer) todo sobre la copa mundial.

Want more practice? Download the lesson notes and take the Quiz at the end of the lesson.

Answers to Ejercicio #1:

  1. saber
  2. Conoces
  3. Conocen
  4. Sabes
  5. Saben

Give it a try- write an example sentence using saber or conocer in the comments below!

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