Conocer & saber (to know)

Conocer, presente







Saber, presente







Both verbs are irregular in the first-person singular.

Conocer, pretérito perfecto







Saber, pretérito perfecto







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



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?)


We use it for skills (knowing how to do something) or for information. Here are some examples:

  • 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?)

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.)

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 of their own. (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 in Spanish

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'll have to say Yo sé que tú eres rico.


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: ¿Sabes a dónde fue?

L: Sí, fue a Madrid.

J: No conozco Madrid, pero quiero ir.

L: Sí, yo también.

Progress, Vol. 2
Progress, all volumes