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Conocer vs Saber

Why does Spanish have two different verbs that mean “know”? And how do you know whether to use Saber or Conocer? Let’s explore these two verbs and practice using them in lots of real sentence contexts.

Full Podcast Episode


¿Lo conoces?

Intro: Join us on a rigorous, step-by-step journey to fluency. I’m Timothy and this is LearnCraft Spanish.

Today we’re going to learn the Spanish verb Conocer, which literally means “to be acquainted”. This verb tends to take direct objects. So for example:

I want to be acquainted with him.

Lo quiero conocer.

In that example, if you compare the English and the Spanish, there’s really no similarity at all, because the literal translation of the Spanish is basically “him I want to acquaint”.

There are some other ways we are likely to translate lo quiero conocer into English: Either “I want to meet him” or “I want to know him”. The thing is, the verb Conocer can refer to either first meeting someone or the ongoing fact of knowing someone, or the general idea of being acquainted. So here’s another example:

She’s from your hometown, you must know her!

Es de tu pueblo, ¡la debes conocer!

Of course, we previously learned that the verb Saber means “to know”. But Saber is only used in factual knowledge. Conocer is used to refer to knowing someone in terms of being acquainted with them. Here’s another example:

I want to know your friend(f).

Quiero conocer a tu amiga.

In this example, it’s clear that when we say “to know”, what we really mean is “to meet” or “to get to know”. These uses are always conocer.

The participle is conocido. So for example:

I haven’t met them yet.

No los he conocido aún.

Let’s go ahead and get some practice with conocer and conocido. I’m also going to throw in a few examples that use Saber so that you can practice choosing between these two verbs. Try to predict the Spanish.

I’ve never met anyone like this.

Nunca he conocido a nadie así.

Everything is in order because I’m going to meet her parents.

Todo está en orden porque voy a conocer a sus padres.

They have known it for a long time, and now he has to know it.

Lo han sabido por mucho tiempo, y ahora él lo tiene que saber.

Have you met that man? You have to meet him.

¿Has conocido a ese hombre? Lo tienes que conocer.

Here’s one more to try. And in this one, to “take something on” implies the verb Llevar.

I’ll take that on because I already know the right order.

Yo llevaré eso porque ya sé el orden correcto.

Now let’s work on conjugating Conocer. For the most part, it’s conjugated exactly like Deber. So here are a couple of examples:

Do you know him?

¿Lo conoces?

He met her at school.

La conoció en la escuela.

But it has some exceptions that are just like the exceptions for the verb Parecer: An extra Z appears in a few of the conjugations, creating a “zc” sound. This is most notably important in the yo form in the present tense. Here’s a sentence example:

I don’t know him.

No lo conozco.

And then this also appears in all the subjunctive forms. For example:

She wants me to meet her friend(f).

Quiere que conozca a su amiga.

Let’s go ahead and practice this verb in various conjugations. For the purposes of this mini-quiz, I’m not going to throw in any uses of Saber so you can focus on conjugating.

They don’t know you, so they want to meet you soon.

No te conocen, así que quieren conocerte pronto.

When did you meet her? I want him to meet her too.

¿Cuándo la conociste? Quiero que él la conozca también.

You wear those clothes now, but not when I met you.

Llevas esa ropa ahora, pero no cuando te conocí.

They want me to meet him because you already know him.

Quieren que yo lo conozca porque tú ya lo conoces.

I know my friend and he’s going to arrive late.

Conozco a mi amigo y él va a llegar tarde.

Meet that boy! He goes to school with you and you should be his friend.

¡Conoce a ese chico! Va a la escuela contigo y deberías ser su amigo.

We met her when she arrived at the house.

La conocimos cuando llegó a la casa.

I already knew all those people and it’s clear that nobody drinks coffee.

Ya conocía a todas esas personas y está claro que nadie toma café.

All right, now let’s do another mini-quiz that will throw in a few uses of Saber. So you’ll get to practice choosing between Conocer and Saber here.

In the first example, we’ll actually use Conocer to talk about familiarity with a city. Conocer is actually frequently used to refer to being acquainted with a place as well as with a person. Try to predict the Spanish.

He already knew that city and now he’s coming back with her.

Él ya conocía esa ciudad y ahora vuelve con ella.

Does she want to meet him? I don’t want her to meet him.

¿Ella lo quiere conocer? Yo no quiero que lo conozca.

Meet the professor because he’s new here.

Conoce al profesor porque es nuevo aquí.

We want to meet him, we don’t know each other yet.

Queremos conocerlo, no nos conocemos aún.

We have met him and we went crazy.

Lo hemos conocido y nos volvimos locos.

I know her, she’s the one who took all those things to school.

La conozco, ella es la que llevó todas esas cosas a la escuela.

She knows it’s an important party and that’s why she wears those clothes.

Sabe que es una fiesta importante y por eso lleva esa ropa.

I knew that woman from school, but he met her yesterday.

Conocía a esa mujer de la escuela, pero él la conoció ayer.

She met him last week, so she didn’t know anything about him.

Lo conoció la semana pasada, entonces no sabía nada de él.

He doesn’t know her and you already know what I think about that.

Él no la conoce y ya sabes lo que pienso sobre eso.

Take this, I know you’re not going to do it if I don’t give it to you now.

Toma esto, sé que no lo vas a hacer si no te lo doy ahora.

They want me to meet them while they are drinking coffee together.

Quiere que los conozca mientras están tomando café juntos.

For more practice with any of this, feel free to dig deeper at LCSPodcast.com/157. Or if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz.

Are you going to wear that? I thought I knew you.

¿Vas a llevar eso? Creía que te conocía.

You never met them, but I know them and that’s why I bring this.

Nunca los conociste, pero yo los conozco y por eso llevo esto.

I knew I needed the length of the bed.

Sabía que necesitaba el largo de la cama.

This week’s average is seventeen, not twenty.

La media de esta semana es diecisiete, no veinte.

She already knows us, we met at her party.

Ella ya nos conoce, nos conocimos en su fiesta.

 We have half the things and the rest is yet to come.

Tenemos la mitad de las cosas y el resto está por venir.

I have to see them again when she meets them.

Los tengo que volver a ver cuando ella los conozca.

You know they want me to have a coffee with them.

Sabes que quieren que tome un café con ellos.

Take this over there, I know they are looking for it.

Lleva esto para allá, sé que lo están buscando.

This week there were eighteen losses.

Esta semana hubo dieciocho bajas.

We want to drink something with the boy she met last week.

Queremos tomar algo con el chico que ella conoció la semana pasada.

She knows we want to meet him.

Sabe que queremos conocerlo.

He took what was on the table and now I have to look for it.

Tomó lo que estaba en la mesa y ahora lo tengo que buscar.

We know sixteen countries, but we want to know more.

Conocemos dieciséis países, pero queremos conocer más.

They want to meet you and know more about you.

Quieren conocerte y saber más de ti.

We’re going to go at half past six and the rest will go later.

Nosotros vamos a ir a las seis y media y el resto irá más tarde.

The nineteen people are about to arrive, but you don’t know anyone.

Las diecinueve personas están por llegar, pero no conoces a nadie.

We’ll go together when I meet them.

Iremos juntos cuando yo los conozca.

I met them at school, but they don’t know each other yet.

Los conocí en la escuela, pero ellos no se conocen todavía.

We have met in that country, very far from home.

Nos hemos conocido en ese país, muy lejos de casa.

For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/157.

In tomorrow’s episode, we’ll learn the adjectives for some very positive terms, including “cute”, “beautiful”, and “perfect”.

This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach Michael Agudelo. Our music was performed by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.

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