Categories: French Grammar

To Know: Savoir vs Connaître

To Know: Savoir vs Connaître

Here is the VIDEO

•Savoir is related to what one can learn by studying and only for facts and things!
It is also the translation of an ability:
•To know how to:
•I know how to repair: Je sais comment réparer
•I can swim: Je sais nager
When to know is followed with words like (a clause): that, what, who, where, when…
I know when you…: Je sais quand tu…

•Connaître is related to acquaintance for people, places and things.

Let’s try what we know:

I know Paul (Paul is a person, so the verb connaître): je connais Paul
You know Pari (Paris is a place, so again connaître): je connais Paris
I know that you will come (to know is followed with a clause, so savoir): je sais qu’il viendra
I can play the violin (it is an ability, I know how to play the violin, so the verb savoir): je sais jouer du violon.
You know I am not happy (you know THAT I am not happy, a clause, so savoir; it is also a fact!): tu sais que je ne suis pas heureux.


With things both verbs are generally possible but the meaning is different.

Savoir is related to what one can learn by studying.
Connaître is related to acquaintance, things that you know because you have been in contact with the information previously.

I know my lesson:
Je sais ma leçon (because I learnt it)
Je connais ma leçon (because you read it before or you know what it is about)
However “je connais ma leçon par coeur” and “je sais ma leçon” have the same meaning.

I know his poem:
Je sais son poème (because I learnt it, I memorized it)
Je connais son poème (because you know that the author wrote this poem, you have heard of that before)
I know French:
Je sais le français (you learn it)
Je connais le français (you know it exists, you know some words)

Some expressions with to know alone need the verb savoir: Who knows? Qui sait? Yes, I know! Oui, je sais!

-Do you know if she is nice? – I don’t know, I dont know her!
Sais-tu si elle est gentille? Je ne sais pas, je ne la connais pas!

Quiz: Savoir vs Connaître

Pascal Dherve

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Pascal Dherve

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