Spanish Grammar Guide

Conocer & Saber (to know)

Conocer, present tense


Saber, present tense


Both verbs are irregular in the first person singular.

Conocer, past tense


Saber, past tense


In the past tense, conocer is regular, saber is irregular.


CONOCER - We use it as to be familiar with and for meeting someone for the first time. Here are some examples:

  • For people

¿Conoces a Carmen? (Do you know Carmen?)

Conocí a tu hermana ayer. (I met your sister yesterday.)

  • For places

Yo no conozco Venecia. (I have never been to Venice. Lit. “I don’t know Venice”)

  • For cultural items (movies, books, etc.)

¿Conoces la película Casablanca? (Do you know the movie Casablanca?)

SABER - We use it for skills (knowing how to) or for information (knowing about something).

  • Skills

Yo sé cantar. (I know how to sing.)

Mi padre no sabe nadar. (My father doesn’t know how to swim.)  

Mi hermana sabe bailar salsa. (My sister knows how to dance salsa.)

  • Information

Yo sé que tú tienes dos hermanos. (I know [that] you have two brothers.)

Yo sé que tus hermanos viven en Brasil. (I know [that] your brothers live in Brazil.)

¿Sabes dónde vive Juan? (Do you know where Juan lives?)

Note 1: In the pretérito perfecto tense, we use conocer more frequently than saber, and most of the time for meeting someone for the first time. For most other situations, we use the present tense, since both verbs usually refer to facts (skills you have, people or places you know, etc.)

Note 2: When we use saber with “information,” most of the time we are really using it with subordinate clauses, which have a subject and a verb. (I know [that] Mary is tall. She knows [that] we live here. Yo sé que Mary es alta. Ella sabe que nosotros vivimos aquí.)

Subordinate clauses

With the verb saber, we often use subordinate clauses that are preceded by the word que:

Yo sé que tu hermana es muy simpática. (I know [that] your sister is very nice.)
Yo sé que tú vives en Brooklyn. (I know [that] you live in Brooklyn.)

In Spanish, we must use the word que whenever the concept we know about is a full sentence with its own verb:

Yo sé que él tiene una casa. (I know that he has a house.)
Yo sé que tú vas a nadar los martes. (Lit. I know that you go to swim on Tuesdays.)

We cannot omit que like we do in English with that:

In English, we can say either I know you are rich or I know that you are rich.

In Spanish, we always say: Yo sé que tú eres rico. (We can never omit the word que.)


LAUREN: Jenny, ¿tú conoces a mi amiga Jessica?

JENNY: Conozco a Jessica, sé que ella vive en Queens y trabaja con Mike.

L: Correcto. ¿Sabes que ella fue a España el mes pasado?

J: ¿De verdad? (Really?) 

L: Sí, sé que ella practicó (practiced) mucho español allá.

J: Bien por ella. ¿Sabes a dónde fue?

L: Sí, fue a Madrid.

J: No conozco Madrid, pero quiero ir.

L: Sí, yo también.

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