Spanish SABER vs CONOCER – Learn to Choose

Saber VS Conocer in Spanish - Learn the Difference and Practice

Welcome to our grammar lesson on how to choose between the verbs saber and conocer in Spanish.

These two verbs have to do with knowledge, but in different ways.

One sentence with "saber" and one with "conocer" in Spanish
One sentence with “saber” and one with “conocer”

In this lesson, we will learn the cases where we use “saber” and the cases where we use “conocer”, with example sentences.

At the end you’ll find a Quiz and and Exercises for practice.

Conjugations in Present Tense

Before we explain the difference between “saber” and “conocer”, let’s review their conjugations in Present Tense:

 saberconocer
yoconozco
sabesconoces
élsabeconoce
nosotrossabemosconocemos
vosotrossabéisconocéis
ellossabenconocen

“saber” vs “conocer”: their meanings

The following table shows the different meanings of “saber” and “conocer”.

We can use this as our guide to choose the right verb in sentences:

saber:conocer:
to know, in the sense of having an informationto know, in the sense of being familiar with someone or something
can, in the sense of having a skillto meet someone for the first time


Let’s study each verb separately, and read example sentences with their different meanings:

saber

We use saber as…:

  • “to know” in the sense of having an information.
  • “can” in the sense of having a skill.

Examples:

Nosotros sabemos que la Tierra es redonda.
We know the Earth is round. (We have that information).

¿Vosotros sabéis qué ha pasado?
Do you guys know what happened? (Do you have that information?)

Yo hablar español.
I can speak Spanish. (I have that skill).

sabes cocinar.
You can cook. (You have that skill).


conocer

We use conocer as…:

  • “to know” in the sense of being familiar with someone or something.
  • to meet” someone for the first time.

Examples:

Yo conozco a María.
I know María. (I’m familiar with her)

Mis padres conocen Barcelona.
My parents know Barcelona. (they are familiar with it)

¿Tú me conoces?
Do you know me? (are you familiar with me?)

Nosotros conocemos este libro.
We know this book. (we are familiar with it).

Esta semana he conocido a una chica muy simpática.
This week I’ve met a very nice girl. (for the first time)

conociste a mis amigos el año pasado.
You met my friends last year. (for the first time)


Sometimes there is flexibility

Good news! There are sentences where we can use “saber” or “conocer”, and either of them is OK.

It makes sense: sometimes “having an information” is similar to “being familiar with it”.

Examples:

Yo la verdad.
Yo conozco la verdad.
Both sentences mean “I know the truth”.

Él sabe el final de la película.
Él conoce el final de la película.
Both sentences mean “He knows the ending of the movie”.

Practice

Quiz

Take this Quiz to test your knowledge about “saber” vs “conocer” in Spanish:


Exercise 1

Complete the conjugations of “saber” and “conocer” in Present Tense with the missing forms:

 saberconocer
yo...... (4)
...... (1)conoces
élsabe...... (5)
nosotros...... (2)conocemos
vosotrossabéis...... (6)
ellos...... (3)conocen

Solutions:
1) sabes
2) sabemos
3) saben
4) conozco
5) conoce
6) conocéis


Exercise 2

Now we are going to practice “saber” vs “conocer” in sentences.

Fill the gaps choosing between the options in brackets:

Ana ___ 1.(sabe/conoce) bailar flamenco.
Ana can dance flamenco.

No ___ 2.(sé/conozco) este pueblo.
I don’t know this town.

Mis amigos te ___ 3.(conocen/saben).
My friends know you.

Ellos ___ 4.(saben/conocen) esquiar.
They can ski (they have that ability).

Nosotros ___ 5. (sabemos/conocemos) por qué las plantas son verdes.
We know why plants are green.

Todos los días ___ 6.(sé/conozco) a gente nueva.
Every day I meet new people for the first time.

Solutions:
1) sabe
2) conozco
3) conocen
4) saben
5) both are OK but “sabemos” sounds better
6) conozco