Conocer vs Saber

Common Mistakes in Spanish

The verbs Conocer and Saber in Spanish frequently confuse English speakers since they both mean To Know. However, these verbs are NOT interchangeable since they have different meanings and are used depending on the context.


When to use Conocer

A) Conocer is used with knowing people or having an acquaintance with them. It means you are familiar with someone.

  • Conozco a Juan.
    means I know Juan (because I have met him in person).

Note that the preposition 'a' is used when conocer is followed by a person (it's a direct object).

  • Conocí a mi esposo en una fiesta.

B) Conocer is also for saying you have been to, visited or have knowledge about a place. 

  • Conozco Italia.
    means that I know about Italy since I have visited the country.
  • Diego conoce un buen lugar donde comer en ese pueblo.
    Diego knows a good place to eat in that town.

C) Conocer can also mean to meet (for the first time).

  • Un gusto conocerle. (Nice to meet you)
  • Yo conocí a Eduardo en la conferencia del año pasado.

D) Conocer can be used in the negative to show that you don't know someone or haven't been somewhere.

  • Mis padres no conocen a mi amiga.
    My parents don't know (haven't met) my friend.
  • Ella no conoce Londres.
    She doesn't know (hasn't been to) London.

When to use Saber

A) Saber is also used when you know facts about certain information.

  • Ella sabe quién va a ir a la reunión.
    She knows who is going to the meeting.
  • ¿Sabes que Angélica tiene dos hijos?
    Did you know that Angelica has two sons?

B) You will often see the verb Saber followed by que, qué, quién, dónde, cuándo, cuál, por qué.

  • No sé qué almorzar hoy.
  • Juana sabe cuándo viene su suegro.
  • ¿Sabes dónde están mis llaves?
  • Ella sabe por qué estoy feliz.
  • Ellos saben cuál ejercicio tienen que hacer.  

C) Saber is used with abilities and skills that are learnt like Conducir (to drive), pintar (to paint) etc. To say you know how to do something, you use Saber + Infinitive.

  • ¿Sabes hablar portugués?
    Do you know how to speak Portuguese?
  • Mi hermana sabe conducir.
    My sister knows how to drive.
  • Ustedes saben hablar español.
    You know how to speak Spanish.

D) Saber can also be used in the negative to show that you don't know something or are ignorant about something.

  • No sé la dirección de tu departamento.
    I don't know the address of your apartment.
  • Mario no sabe nada de inglés.
    Mario doesn't know any English.

Conocer vs. Saber

Compare:

  • No conozco la capital de Francia.
    (means I haven't been there)
  • No sé cuál es la capital de Francia.
    (means I don't know what the capital is)

In Summary

Basically the difference can be summarized as:

Conocer: To be familiar with (or met) a Person or visited a Place

Saber: To know a fact or information. To have the ability to do things (skills).


See the complete conjugation of the verbs Saber and Conocer with examples in each tense.

Try our interactive game online to practice the difference: Conocer vs. Saber Game


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Last Updated: 07 July 2014
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