Saber vs Conocer in Spanish

Let’s find out what is the difference between saber vs conocer in Spanish. Study basic grammar rules with online lessons. Read about how and when to use some important words and phrases.

 Saber vs Conocer in Spanish

Saber Vs Conocer | What do Saber and conocer mean in Spanish?

Note: In Spanish, there are two verbs that express the idea “to know.” These two verbs are saber and conocer.” The verb you choose depends upon the context in which it is used. These verbs are not interchangeable.

What is conocer?

First, the word to know comes from the Latin -cognoscere-, which is formed by the prefix -con- which means everything and the verb -gnoscere- which expresses to know. Therefore, knowledge refers to the action of obtaining information about a certain object or situation. In addition, it implies research to obtain the information and process it for its fixation and that it becomes knowledge.

On the other hand, this verb also has other applications, among which we can mention: 

– It applies to the person when they have had interpersonal relationships with another for a more or less prolonged period (Lucy knows Juana very well). 

– Applies to skills developed in work activity (I know my responsibilities). 

– Applies to the understanding that the person has about himself (I know myself well). 

– It is applied to the skill acquired by studying a particular topic or by practicing an activity (Carlos knows everything about soccer). 

To summarize, knowing is the activity by which the individual appropriates the world around him, that is, it is the action of intellectual capture of the environment or the individual himself. 

The act of knowing is an active and complex process in which biological, cerebral, linguistic, cultural, social, and historical aspects intervene. In addition, it represents a fundamental need for the human being, since, based on knowledge, the person can orient themselves, decide, act and interact with their peers. 

What is saber?

The word to know comes from the Latin –sapere-, which refers to having intelligence. In this sense, knowledge is the set of skills learned from various sources such as: 

– Knowing by intuition: it comes when the individual comes into contact with an object or situation and perceives certain aspects of it. 

– Knowing from experience: it is the result of lived experiences. 

– Knowing by tradition: it is what is obtained from the predecessor generations.

– Knowledge by authority: it is that which comes from a legal, moral or political authority. 

– Scientific knowledge: it is that which is obtained through research and study. 

Knowledge is in synthesis, the set of knowledge developed and accumulated on different topics and that depends on the interest of each person. These are part of a process of intellectual development that leads to the evolution of each individual, enabling them to act individually and collectively. 

What is the difference between Saber vs Conocer in Spanish?

Note: To express knowledge or ignorance of a fact or information about something, use “saber


Ella sabe donde está la cafetería – She knows where coffee shop is.

Tú no sabes nada – I don’t know nothing

Note: To say that one is or is not acquainted with a person, a place, or an object, use “conocer”


Tú no conoces a mi tío. – You don’t know (am not acquainted with) my uncle

Nosotros conocemos España – Nosotros know (are acquainted with) Spain.

Note: To express knowledge or ignorance of a subject or learning discipline, use “saber” or “conocer”, depending upon the context.


Ella no sabe nada de la noticia – She doesn’t know anything about the news

Ella conoce el sistema. – She is familiar with the system

Note: To express knowledge or ignorance of a skill, or how to do something, use “saber + infinitive”.


Él sabe cocinar – He knows how to cook.


The situation with regards to the correct use of “saber” and “conocer” can be summarized as follows:

to know a fact, to know something thoroughly, to know how to do something
to be acquainted with a person, place, or thing
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