French Language French Vocabulary: «To Know»

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It is sometimes difficult for foreigners to know when to use the 2 French verbs "Savoir" et "Connaître".

In English, for example those 2 verbs both means To know:

  • Connaissez-vous cette personne ? = Do you know this person?
  • Savez-vous ce qu'il est possible de faire ? = Do you know what we can do?

Basically, "savoir" is to know something, or know how to do something, while "connaître" is to be familiar or acquainted with someone or something (or some place).

So for example, you could say:

  • "je connais New York" (I'm familiar with NY)

vs

  • "je sais que New York est une grande ville" (I know NY is a big city).

The first has to do with my personal familiarity while the second is a fact I know.

In this article we will teach you in which situations use those 2 verbs.

Savoir[edit | edit source]

To know how to do something[edit | edit source]

In French, to say "I know how to do something", you use "je sais" + verb infinitive.

To know who, what or where[edit | edit source]

  • Je ne sais pas ce que tu veux dire = I don’t know what you want to say
  • Il sais où je suis = He knows where I am
  • Elle sait où le park se trouve = She knows where the park is located
  • Je sais d'où il vient = I know who he comes from

Useful expressions[edit | edit source]

Je n'en sais rien[edit | edit source]

It means "I have no idea".

Tu sais quoi ?[edit | edit source]

This is a familiar expression meaning “you know what?”. Tu sais quoi ? J’en ai marre ! = You know what? I’m fed up with it!

Qui sait[edit | edit source]

It means "who knows?".

  • Il y est déjà peut être allé, qui sait ? = Maybe, he has already been there, who knows?
Un je ne sais quoi[edit | edit source]

This expression is used to say “I don’t know what”.

  • Elle avait un certain je ne sais quoi qui m'a tout de suite plu = She had a certain “I don’t know what” I liked right away

Connaître[edit | edit source]

Know someone or something personally[edit | edit source]

The meaning of “connaître” is closer to "be familiar with” or "know someone or something personally".

Examples:

  • Tu connais ce bar ? = Are you familiar with this bar?
  • Est-ce que vous connaissez le prix des loyers à Marseille ? = Do you know the rents in Marseille?

Useful expressions[edit | edit source]

Connaître la musique[edit | edit source]

This expression means that you are used to something because you've already experienced it many times.

  • Merci, ne m'en parle pas, je connais la musique = Don't tell me, I know!

Connaître sur le bout des doigts[edit | edit source]

it means you know it perfectly, "like the back of your hand"

  • Tu es prêt pour le test ? Oui je connais le sujet sur le bout des doigts = Are you ready for the test? Yes, I know the topic like the back of my hand.

Connaître par coeur[edit | edit source]

It means “to know something by heart”.

  • Je connais ma leçon par coeur = I know my lesson by heart


At last, if you have a question about the difference between "savoir" and "connaître", post it here !

VIDEOS[edit | edit source]


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