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Both the verbs “Savoir” and “Connaître” mean “to know”. Both are irregular French verbs. But French learners find it quite confusing how to use them correctly. Let’s learn how to use them in sentences.

1. SAVOIR : We use “savoir” for obtained/ acquired facts, knowledge and skills.

Conjugation:
Je sais
Tu sais
Il/ Elle/ On sait
Nous savons
Vous savez
Ils/ Elles savent

Examples:
– Je sais que tu parles bien espagnol. (I know you speak Spanish well.)
– Il ne sait pas où son patron habite. (He doesn’t know where his boss lives.)
– Je ne sais pas. (I don’t know.)
– Qui sait ! (Who knows!)
– La terre est ronde. – Oui, je sais. (The earth is round.- Yes. I know.)
– Je sais préparer la pizza. (I know how to prepare pizza.)
– Il sait conduire la voiture. (He knows how to drive a car.)

2. CONNAÎTRE : We use “Connaître” to mean “knowing people”, “having visited a place”, “having knowledge in a discipline or an area of study”.

Conjugation:
Je connais
Tu connais
Il/ Elle/ On connaît
Nous connaissons
Vous connaissez
Ils/ Elles connaissent

Examples:
– Je connais ton père, mais je ne connais pas ta mère. (I know your father but I don’t know your mother.)
– Il connaît Rome mais il ne connaît pas Bucharest. (He’s been to Rome but he’s never been to Bucharest.)
– Je ne connais pas ton ami mais je pense qu’il est gentil. (I don’t know your friend but I think he’s nice.)
– Tu connais Reims mais tu ne connais pas Lille. (You have been to Reims but you haven’t been to Lille.)
– Il connaît le garçon. (He knows the boy.)
– Je ne connais pas cette actrice mais on m’a dit qu’elle est excellente. (I don’t know this actress but I’ve heard that she’s excellent.)
– En 2020, elle a connu un grand succès dans son entreprise. (In 2020, she saw great success in her business.)

Remember: “Savoir” can be followed by que (that), pourquoi (why), où (where), comment (how), si (if), à quelle heure (at what time), quand (when). However, “connaître” is mostly not followed by these.
– Je ne sais pas s’il vient à la fête. (I don’t know if he’s coming to the party.)
– Il sait où son patron habite. (He knows where his boss lives.)
– Je sais comment elle cuisine. (I know how she cooks.)

– Nous savons où vous restez pendant les vacances. (We know where you stay during vacation.)

THUMB RULE:

“Connaître que”- Does not exist

“Je sais que” + all other types of sentences

SUMMARY:

VERBE USAGE EXEMPLES TRADUCTIONS
Savoir Facts, acquired
knowledge,
acquired skills

Je sais où il habite.

Il fait beau. – Je sais !

Je sais cuisiner.

I know where he lives.

It’s nice weather. -I know!

I know how to cook.

Connaître

Knowing
people, Having
visited places,
Knowing areas
of study

Je connais Paula.
Je connais Rome.
Je connais la culture indienne.

I know Paula.
I know Rome.
I know Indian culture.

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