This article provides insight about the use of “saber” vs. “conocer.” Both of these verbs translate into English as “to know”. However they are not used interchangeably. This leads to some awkward exchanges between those learning Spanish and native Spanish speakers.
When to use “Saber” instead of “Conocer” and vice versa?
Two words are used in Spanish to express “knowing” things, which can confuse some beginner Spanish students. The good news is that the confusion can all be cleared up quickly by learning about the use of “saber” vs. “conocer”. It all comes down to context.
“Saber” means “to know” and used when discussing skills. For example, to express that you know how to drive you would say, “Yo sé manejar”. Additionally, “saber” can also be used to communicate knowledge about a particular topic. For example, “Yo supe que decir,” which translates to, “I knew what to say.”
“Conocer” also means “to know” but is used when speaking about a place or a person, and when speaking about meeting someone for the first time. For example, “Yo conozco Italia” means “I know Italy”. In the context of people you would say, “conozco a tu hermana” which in English is, ” I know your sister.” Finally to speak about meeting someone for the first time you would say something like, “Yo conocí a mi esposo en Cuba” which translates to. “I met my husband in Cuba.”
It all comes down to context.
As mentioned before, the use of either verbs for “to know” in Spanish is dictated by context. At LALC, our students learn to identify the context for the use of “saber” vs. “conocer” and other similar verbs in a fun and culturally immersive environment. Contact us to inquire about our classes.