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Saber vs. Conocer - the Differences

Written by tutor Cheryl W.

Saber and conocer both mean “to know.”

However, Spanish-speaking people distinguish between intellectual knowledge (using saber) and personal, experiential knowledge (using conocer):

  SABER CONOCER
WHEN    To speak of knowing facts, details, data, or how to do something.

Also, in the preterite tense ONLY, it technically means “found out.”

See sample sentences below.

To speak of personal acquaintance with a person, place or situation. It may also be interpreted as “recognize” or “be familiar with.”

Also, in the preterite tense ONLY, it is interpreted as “met” (as in introduced for the first time).

See sample sentences below.

WHY       To speak of intellectual, data-based knowledge To speak of personal, experiential knowledge

HOW

Present        
Tense


Sé          sabemos
Sabes     sabéis
Sabe       saben


Conozco     conocemos
Conoces     conocéis
Conoce       conocen
Preterite        
Tense
Supe        supimos
Supiste     supisteis
Supo        supieron
Conocí          conocimos
Conociste     conocisteis
Conoció        conocieron
Imperfect Tense         Sabía       sabíamos
Sabías     sabíais
Sabía       sabían
Conocía       conocíamos
Conocías      conocíais
Conocía       conocían

Sample Sentences

SABER

No sé cuando Juan va a comer. I don’t know when Juan is going to eat.
¿Sabes que hora es? Do you know what time it is?
Necesitamos saber los nombres de       
todos los partes del cuerpo.
We need to know the names of
all the parts of the body.
Juan supo que su gato se murió. Juan found out that his cat died.

CONOCER

Conocí a Juan en mi empleo. I met Juan at my work.
Fui a la reunion, pero no
conocía nadie.
I went to the reunion, but I didn’t
recognize anyone.
Me gusta conocerle, Señor. It is my pleasure to know you, Sir.
Conocimos estas calles mejor que nadie!    We know these streets better than anybody!

Saber y Conocer Practice Quiz

_________ a mi jefe nuevo ayer. (I met my new boss yesterday.)

A. Supe
B. Conocí
The correct answer here would be B.

Sí, ________ que él era tu jefe. (Yes, I know that he used to be your boss.)

A. conozco
B.
The correct answer here would be B.

¿Cómo _______ que él era mi jefe? (How did you find out he was my old boss?)

A. supiste
B. conociste
The correct answer here would be A.

Voy a preguntarle si le _________ a tu jefe nuevo. (I am going to ask him if he knows your new boss.)

A. sabe
B. conoce
The correct answer here would be B.

Me dijo que también te _________ a ti. (He told me that he also knows you.)

A. sabe
B. conoce
The correct answer here would be B.

Y le pregunté cómo te __________. (And I asked him how he got to know you.)

A. conocía
B. sabía
The correct answer here would be A.

¿__________ muy bien el edificio donde trabajo? (Do you know (are you very familiar with) the building where I work?)

A. Conoces
B. Sabes
The correct answer here would be A.

Siempre me pierdo, pero no _________ porque. (I always get lost, but I don't know why.)

A. conozco
B.
The correct answer here would be B.
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