SABER AND CONOCER...Is there a difference?
“True knowledge is in knowing that you know nothing!”
Socrates, Greek philosopher ( 470 -399 B.C.)
Good Ol’ Socrates…he certainly knew how to get the party started.
This might sound a bit depressing for those of us embarking on a language learning journey, but there is obviously quite a bit of truth in this quote.
Is that a convoluted way to come round to talking about how to say “To Know” in Spanish?
SABER = To Know and CONOCER= To Know …WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
Did you even ‘know’ there are two ‘knows’ in Spanish? It also happens in French, so you can’t just blame Spanish by the way, but that’s beside my point.
There are some things you know and there are other things you just KNOW and this might be one of them.
In this post, I’d like to give a brief description of the main differences between the two Spanish verbs SABER and CONOCER, just to get you started on the right track.
SABER is used basically for knowingfacts. It’s also used knowing HOW TO do something.
CONOCER is used for knowing people and places, in the sense of being acquainted with them.
My students often ask which is the most common so they just concentrate on one of them.
It just doesn’t work that way! They are both as common as each other, it’s just that they’re used on different occasions.
So let’s see when and how to use SABER for a start, and because it’s a bit tricky to get your head around, I’ll deal with CONOCER in my next post in more detail!
*** NOTE: For the recording of all Spanish words written in RED: SEE BELOW .
THE RECORDING STARTS HERE, SO WHEN YOU’VE FINISHED READING, SCROLL BACK UP AND FOLLOW THE PHRASES FROM HERE *
SABER is often used with the pronoun ‘LO’ ( referring to the fact previously mentioned)
- SABER FOR FACTS…..
YO SÉ = I know
“JUAN ESTÁ EN CASA” John is at home [A fact]
“YO LO SÉ” I know. [literally: ‘I it know’]
or more commonly, just simply
Spanish speakers will often leave the YO (I) out of a sentence, unless it’s necessary for emphasis.
TENGO UN COCHE ROJO = I’ve got a red car [A fact]
LO SÉ = I know.
To ask someone if they know something, as in a fact: ¿TÚ SABES…? = Do you know…?
(No need to use TÚ all the time)
¿SABES QUÉ HORA ES? [A fact] Do you know what time it is?
¿SABES DÓNDE ESTÁ JUAN? [A fact] Do you know where John is?
You could answer with LO SÉ = I know (it) or the negative…NO LO SÉ = I don’t know (it).
- SABER is used for knowing HOW TO DO something when in English we use ‘CAN’
SÉ CONDUCIR = I can drive [ literally: I know how to drive]
NO SÉ NADAR = I can swim [literally: I know how to swim]
¿SABES COCINAR? = Can you cook? [ literally: Do you know how to cook?]
¿SABES BAILAR? = Can you dance? [ literally: Do you know how to dance?]
NO SÉ COCINAR = I can’t cook. [ literally: I don’t know how to cook] (True example!)
NO SÉ BAILAR = I can’t dance. [ literally: I don’t know how to dance] (Another true example )
Click on the audio file below and just scroll back up to *SABER and listen and repeat
Don’t forget to tune in for the next post coming soon, with some examples of when to use CONOCER (The OTHER ‘To know’!)
Thanks to Lorna for asking me to write this short post on SABER!
I really hope this helps!
If, if, if………………..
- If you have any grammar point you’d like me to go into a little more or clarify, let me know in the comment box below.
- If you’d like to get my free e-book about when to use SER, “Focus on SER” (TO BE) you could supply your contact details in the pop-up box provided.
- If you’d like to find out more about News in Slow Spanish, see my previous post here and leave a comment below if you’re interested.