Fun with Spanish Words: Saber Vs. Conocer

Words are weird. And rarely is that more apparent
than when you’re learning another language. I mean, before I started learning Spanish,
I didn’t notice it much. I wasn’t focusing on it, I guess? But then I soon learned that
the word “hacer” means both “to make” and “to do”. Okay, no biggie. Every time we’d
say “make” or “do” we just have to say “hacer” instead. But it sucks to be a Spanish speaker.
When they would normally just say “hacer” now they have to pick between “make” or “do”.
If you hang out with a Spanish speaker learning English, you’ll often hear them making cute
mistakes. “Did you make the laundry?” But what goes around comes around. In Spanish,
they have two different words for “to know”–“saber” and “conocer”. And these words are not interchangeable.
They’ll know what you’re saying usually if you get it wrong, but you’ll definitely be
wrong. In this video, I’m not only going to tell you all about “saber” and “conocer”–I’m
going to give you a trick you can use in the future whenever you encounter a similar situation.
Hola, soy Jordan and this is a Spanish Quickie. Fast, easy Spanish lessons from somebody who
speaks your language. Okay, “saber” means “to know” and “conocer” means “to know”. That
you know. I’m such a dork. If you Googled it or looked in a typical Spanish book, you’d
see a bunch of rules about when to use which word. But instead of memorizing a bunch of
rules, it’s easier, and better, and less stressful, and just more fun, to sit back, relax, take
a deep breath and think about the words for a minute. I mean, it’s kind of weird, no,
one word can mean two different things? Like, I “run” on a track. I “run” for president.
That’s weird. The meaning of the words have nothing to do with each other. Do they? But
the words are exactly the same. But then there’s “to know”. It’s not as glaring as “run” but
“know” is used two different ways too. “I know the answer.” “I know Tom.” We’ve been
using “know” both ways for so long, at first, to me at least, it seemed like it was just
one word. But look at another example. “I know math.” “I know Madrid.” Those are two
different words! “I know math”–I can do the steps on a piece of paper in front of you.
They’re facts. “The answer”–I can write it down for you. It’s a fact too. But “Madrid”?
“Tom?” I can’t write them down for you. They aren’t facts. When I “know math” and when
I “know the answer”, I “know facts”. When I “know Madrid” or “know Tom”–“I’m familiar
with them”. See what’s going on here? Now I tell you, the word “to know” in English
has two meanings in Spanish, “saber” and “conocer”. “Saber” is used to “know facts” and “conocer”
is used “to be familiar with”–we just normally say “know” for “to be familiar with”. Pretty
cool, no? Words really are fun. So whenever this comes, up, whenever there’s a word in
English that has two Spanish meanings, instead of stressing out about a bunch of rules, think
about how the English word might have two, distinct meanings, even though it seems like
one at first–that’s just because we’re used to it. Now, when you think about it as two
different words, it’s not hard to choose the right one. But there’s one more thing. Both
“saber” and “conocer” are irregular verbs. Since both are so common, it really is a good
use of your time to learn them both. But both are really easy, just one change each. “Saber”
conjugates like this. Notice the only irregularity is the first person singular here. Remember
normally, for an ER verb, you’d knock off the ER and add an O. But with “saber” it’s
just “sé”. So “yo sé” is “I know”. “No sé” is “I don’t know”. Be careful, we haven’t
covered it yet, but there’s a word out there “se”–without the accent. Don’t worry about
it now, we’ll get to that in due time. Just know that it’s a different word. “Sé” with
the accent is “I know. “Se” without the accent is something else–it means a few different
things. With “saber”, all the other spots are the same. “Sabes”, “sabe”, “sabemos”,
etc. Moving on to “conocer”. The irregularity is just in the first person singular spot
here too. Instead of just knocking off the ER, you’re going to knock off the C also,
then add ZCO. So “conozco”. Then every other spot is the same. “Conoces”, “conoce”, “conocemos”…
And that’s it. In summary. “Saber” means “to know”, as in “to know facts” and looks like
this. “I know” is “yo sé”. “Conocer” means “to know” as in “to be familiar with” and
looks like this. “I know” is “yo conozco”. Right now I want you to do two things. Pop
on over to That link is also below this video. First,
download a blank Conjugation Sheet and practice the conjugations of “saber” and “conocer”
using The Conjugation Strategy. If you already know regular ER conjugations, this should
take you a matter of minutes. Then download the Practice Sheet where you’ll get to practice
choosing between “saber” and “conocer”. The Answer Keys to both are also available at
that link which is below this video. A huge shout out and thank you to Agi Raborn–surely
I messed that pronunciation up, please forgive me. Agi requested a video on “saber” and “conocer”
and that’s why I made this today. I had something else scheduled originally, but I loved the
request. Just so you know. If you liked this video, please press LIKE or the big thumbs
up cause it makes me feel good. No for real. It makes me feel good. Press LIKE or the big
thumbs up. If you’re not signed up to the Gringo Espanol Newsletter, you my friend are
missing out. I send stuff to subscribers that I don’t send to the public. In fact, my new
travel Spanish training program is coming out soon and people on that list, they’re
gonna get a special deal. Go to right now to sign up, that link’s also below
this video. I’ll see you next time. Hasta luego. Adiós amigo.

About the author


  1. ¡Uy! ¿Por qué la vida me tormenta así? Aprender el idioma habría sido muchísimo más fácil si hubiera tenido acceso a tus vídeos de joven. Por lo menos, es maravilloso que aprender de ti funcione mejor que un libro de texto insuperable en una idioma que no habla y que suministre aprendizaje verdadero a todos que en realidad desean hablar la lengua. Te agradezco por tus esfuerzos y ¡qué tenga éxito con todo que haga! 

    For all of those who watch these videos and truely want to learn Spanish, never give up! If you are determined, you will learn the language, and it will change your life forever.

  2. Hola! My father is from mexico but i don't speak spanish because he didn't teach me and i'm watching your videos to learn spanish and talk to him in his language but there's something i don't understand, i don't know the difference between Y and LL sound. Could you make a video explaining this?

    Thank you 🙂

  3. Would "Lo sé" simply mean "I know it" as past lessons would suggest? A spanish friend of mine told me that it means "I know" a long time ago when I asked for that simple translation but perhaps they misunderstood the intent of it's use.
    The case being where the phrase alone is an answer and not a whole sentence (which would otherwise omit the 'Yo' anyways).

    So for example:

    Person A: "He spoke to her yesterday"
    Person B: "I know"

    Google translate seems to keep it to "I know" but that's never very reliable anyways. This is for use in Spain by the way.

    Also, thank you for this video. I was actually looking up the difference between these two recently but the explanation left me confused. Naturally, you made it much easier to understand as always. So thank you again, Jordan and of course, Ági for requesting it

    Thank you in advance!

  4. buen video, algo que es complicaco en español, es la palabra tubo y tuvo.  ya que significan cosas distintas y sin embargo se pronuncian igual.    saludos

  5. I said this on another video too, but I cannot stress this enough. 
    I've been stu(dying) español for about 4 years now, but I still find these videos helpfull. 
    I have also shared them with all my spanish-teaching friends, because trust me; they need it!

    Thank you! 

  6. Hi! I'm from Spain and I would like to add something.
    Sometimes, the verb conocer is traduced as to meet, when it's the first time you meet someone. An easy example would be the great sitcom "How I met your mother", "Cómo conocí a vuestra madre" in Spain.

  7. ¿Sabes que esta pasado?  – ¿Conoces a esa chica? – ¿Sabrias decirme donde esta la calle mas cercana? – Deberias conocer a esas personas  – ¿Conoces el metro de esta zona?   – YO la conozco pero no sabria decirte su nombre –  Estoy seguro de que deberias saber su nombre

  8. Wow, man!! Your videos are awsome!!
    I'm an andalusian living in the Basque Country, and speak English since I was a kid, started at ten. Now, in my thirties, as a non working waitress, I'm thinking about studying to be a Spanish teacher to foreigners (the E.L.E.), and with your videos I'm learning a lot about what you, English born speakers, find difficult, tricky or strange, or funny!
    So thanks a lot dude, you're being really helpful to me!  ;))

  9. Great pronunciation of the "r" for an american! You can do it better though. Try to end verbs like "conocer" saying the "r" the same way you say the "tt" (double t) in "better". That "tt" sound is a closer sound of the "r" in Spanish. Greeting from José!

  10. Dude, because of you, i'll be able to ace Spanish and actually learn something while doing it. Thank you so much!

  11. this was super helpful! i have a spanish quiz tomorrow on this and i am so glad i found this video!

  12. Saber is also used to say you know how to do something.  Yo se (infinitive)  I know how to (verb).

  13. This is really funny, i mean, is funny to watch spanish lessons when you're already a spanish speaker hahaha. Keep it up!

  14. This video really cleared up the confusion for me, I got 9 out of 10 on the practice sheet. I wrote La profesora sabe sus estudiantes, but I realised straight away why it was wrong, because you can't know your students like a fact, you know them by being aware of them. Anyway I'm really grateful for this video and your channel. Gracias

  15. I L*O*V*E your videos! They are fabulously original and fun — and, frankly, your pronunciation is cute and makes me laugh, which is a plus. Okay, there's a "but" coming. That interesting musical transition you use is SOOOO freakin' loud, that I have to rip the ear phones out of my ears every time to keep from bursting my ear drums — it's actually painful!!! Otherwise, you rock!:)

  16. Also I would like to point out that there are some cases in which both words can be used with a really similar meaning (conozco la respuesta, sé la respuesta/I know the answer), with conocer being a bit more formal or high society word, or sometimes having a slightly stronger meaning. Usually (not always) conozco would mean something related to being familiar with the answer in the example before (maybe because you experienced it yourself), rather than just knowing it because you memorized it. They are not exact rules but at least in Spain there are these cases in which both can be used for the same meaning.

  17. Mr. Hola!
    De verdad, tu eres El Rey De Los Gringos!
    Me encantan tus videos! Son informativos y comicos al mismo tiempo. Seguro que voy a mirar todos, pero primero, I must make some laundry 😀
    Como estudiante de espaNol, nunca pensaba en las dificultades de aprender ingles para los hispanohablantes. Muy interesante.
    Hasta pronto,
    PEI Canada

  18. For people who speak german or french :
    German: conocer – kennen
    saber – wissen
    French: conocer – connaitre
    saber – savoir
    So its easies to understand if you speak one of those languages 🙂


  20. Do you have a video on when to use the definite articles and when not to use them. The same with the indefinite ones? Because I am always making mistakes on that.

  21. I've noticed that a lot of Spanish speaking youtubers (when doing makeup reviews) say "This foundation brings a pump"….instead of this foundation has a pump.I always cringe when I hear it bc a lot of the time they have nearly perfect English otherwise.

  22. Thank you so much for all these videos! You are really helping connect the gaps to what I could not understand. Thank you again!

  23. As someone who uses mnemonics, I came upon this realization watching your video.

    SABER = Darth Vader's Light Saber (cold, factual knowledge)
    CONOCER = Luke shouting co-NOOOOOOOOOO-cer ("familial" knowledge)

    See video link to this seen:

    VADER: Busca sus sentimientos. Tu SABES lo que es verdad
    LUKE: co-NOOOOOOOO-cer (in other words… No te conozco)

  24. Tu dices (jo) Yo. Practice saying like the word "jaw" in Jamaicanish. For Spanish speakers are also difficult to say this (j) phonetic sound. Practice make Masters. 🙂

  25. Gringo Espanol you are fantastic I was having trouble with both conocer y saber, and para y por and you made it alot easier. Thank you so much

  26. Thank you so much for these vids. I am loving relearning Spanish even more. In school, Spanish was so confusing and I lost motivation to keep learning because the teacher made it almost impossible. Im relearning Spanish to help care for my patients better. Keep up the great work!!! #spanishformedicalpeople

  27. Can you make a video on how to use hacer. That's seems like the most difficult verb of all time because it is used in a variety of ways in sentences.

  28. Can you make video about sentece structure. I never know the order of words. For example in Spanish it's unas pantalones azules instead of blue pants. I'm so confused please help.

  29. So if the question is about size would it be saber or conocer? What if it's a question about knowing a shop that's less expensive than another? I have specifics if needed

  30. The Scandinavian languages make the same "facts vs. familiarity" distinction that Spanish does: Spanish saber usually acts like Swedish veta, and Spanish conocer usually acts like Swedish känna.

    But (major difference here!) Spanish can also use saber for knowing skills; the Nordic languages can't use their "know-a-fact" OR their "be-familiar-with" verbs to express that kind of knowledge. Pity the Latino in Stockholm who has to admit: Jag kan inte svenska ("I don't know Swedish", literally "I cannot Swedish").

  31. Your videos are very helpful but when I listen them there are times that the sound goes too high that I have to take my headphones off or stop and turn off the sound a bit. For example, the jingle at the beginning and the end of the videos and, for example, in this video the "deet" sound when you show the parts that you made mistakes in video recordings. These are very distracting and makes one feel quite annoyed.

  32. Also, when you know HOW to do something/perform an act, or that you're SUPPOSED to do something:  SABER
    Yo sé nadar = I know how to swim / I can swim
    ¿Sabes (cómo) llegar a casa? = Do you know how to get back home?
    ¿Sabe ella cerrar la puerta después de entrar?  Does she know to shut the door after coming in?

  33. Love the videos. Please keep it up. I do find it hilarious though how he quite often slips and pronounces Spanish words like an English word. For example he says "Se", when he should be saying "Say". I can ignore this though as this dude is brilliant otherwise.

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