“Saber” vs “Conocer” in Spanish – What’s the Difference?

Saber Vs Conocer in Spanish

Welcome to our grammar lesson about Spanish verbs “Saber” vs “Conocer”.

Both verbs “Saber” and “Conocer” can be translated as “to know”, so we need to know when to use each verb.

In this lesson, we will learn the cases where we use “Saber” and the cases where we use “Conocer”, providing example sentences.

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

1. Conjugations of “Saber” and “Conocer” in Present Tense

Before we learn their different uses, let’s review the conjugations of both verbs in Present Tense, presented in the following table:

 saberconocer
yoconozco
sabesconoces
élsabeconoce
nosotrossabemosconocemos
vosotrossabéisconocéis
ellossabenconocen

2. “Saber” vs “Conocer” – When do we use each verb?

Now let’s get into the different uses of this 2 verbs.

As we have said, both verbs can mean “to know”, but in the different ways. In order to decide which verb to use, we apply the logic shown in the following table:

"Knowing"... 
...in the the sense of having a skill or information:"SABER"
...in the sense of being familiar with someone or something:"CONOCER"

Looking at the table, we can understand when we use “saber” and when “conocer”:

Saber

We use “Saber” when we mean mean “knowing” in the sense of “having a skill or information”.

Here are some example sentences:

Yo hablar español.
I know how to speak Spanish. (I can speak Spanish, I have that skill).

Sabes cocinar.
You know how to cook. (You can cook, you have that skill).

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

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

Conocer

We use “Conocer” when we mean “knowing” in the sense of “being familiar with someone or something”.

Example sentences:

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

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

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

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


Some good news!: Sometimes there is flexibility

There are sentences where we can use either “saber” or “conocer” and both are OK. It makes sense, because sometimes we could both say that we “have the information” and “are familiar with it”.

Here are a couple of examples where we could use both “saber” and “conocer”:

la verdad.
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”.

In general, this flexibility doesn’t exist when we are talking about skills. For skills, always “saber”.

3. Practice Spanish “Saber” vs “Conocer”

Quiz

Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge about “Saber” vs “Conocer”:

Exercise

In the following sentences, fill the gaps in your mind or on a piece of paper, choosing between the options in brackets the one that sounds better to you. Then check the solutions below:

Ana _____ 1.(sabe/conoce) bailar flamenco. (Ana knows how to dance flamenco)

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

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

Juan y Mario _____ 4.(saben/conocen) esquiar. (Juan and Mario know how to ski)

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

Solutions to the Exercise: 1 = sabe, 2 = conozco, 3 = conocen, 4 = saben, 5 = sabemos