Thursday, February 4, 2010

The difference between the savoir and connaître

These two verbs can be confusing for people who are learning the french language as a begginner or intermediate learner. However, there is a difference while using these two verbs. Even though the verb savoir and the verb connaître means (to know), it is very important when to use them while speaking to an fluent or advanced french speaker. Therefore, the objective is to clear out the confusion between these two verbs. Before explaining the difference between these two verbs,I want to present to you the conguatation of the present tense of both verbs.

Connaître- to know

Je connais - I know

Tu connais - You know

Il connaît - He knows

Elle connaît - She knows

Nous connaissons - We know

Vous connaissez - You know

Ils connaissent - They know

Elles connaissent - They know

Savoir - to know

Je sais - I know

Tu sais - You know

Il sait - He knows

Elle sait - She knows

Nous savons - We know

Vous savez - You know

Ils savent - They know

Elles savent - They know

First part will start with the French verb connaître! The verb conaitre does mean to know! Here are some things to be aware of this verb!

1. The verb connaître is always used with a person whom one is familiar with, or aquanticed with, or knows someone. Let's look at 3 examples in some sentence!

Example I.

Nous connaissons Michelle qui travaille au magasin.

Meaning in English:

We know Michelle who works at the store.

Note: In this sentence, it speaks of familarity of a person, and a group of people who knows or is famaliar with michelle! Remember,The french word (Nous) means (We) in the english langauge! Therefore,(Nous) repesents in the sentence more than one person who knows or is familiar with michelle. Let's observe the next example.

Example II.

Je connais Jacques

Meaning in English langauge

I know Jacques

Note: Even though this sentence deals with familiarity, The french word(Je) speaks of one person who knows or is familiar with Jacques! Remember, (Je) means (I) in the english! Let's observe the next example.

Example III.

Tu connais Danielle

Meaning in the english language

You know Danielle!?

Note: This third part also deals with familiarity, but this is asking someone a question if he or she knows or is familiar with that person(Danielle)! Remember, The french word (Tu) means (you) in the english language, but is singular! However, (Tu) is represented in sentence as a question asked directly towards one person!Overall, someone is asking a person(Tu) the question- does he or she know Danielle!? Let's look at another example.

Example IV.

Non,Je ne connais pas Michelle

Meaning in English:

I don't know Michelle

Note: This sentence is using the negation in the sentence! If a person approaches and says in French (Tu connais Michelle)! If one doesn't know michelle, he or she would refer back to that person (Non, Je ne connais pas Michelle). Still, one would still the negation (ne...pas) along with using the conguatation of the verb connaitre. Next, we are going to deal the second part of using the verb connaître.

2. The verb Connaître is always used for a place,city, or a country! Overall, it deals with a place,city or country that one is familiar with or knows!

Je connais bien Lyon

Meaning in English

I know Lyon very well.


I am familiar with Lyon.

Note: In French sentence talks about one person(he or she) who knows or is familiar with a city! However, Lyon is a city! Remember, (Je) means in english language(I)!

Example II:

Ils/Elles connaissent France

Meaning in English

They know France


They are familiar with France!

Note: In this sentence in French, it is a person or more speaking about a group of persons who knows or are familiar with France! Note that France is a country, which is spoken in the sentence! Remember, the french words( Ils/Elles) mean (They)in the English language!

Example III.

John connaît le théâtre!

Meaning in English:

John knows the theater

Note: In this sentence, there is one or more persons speaking about a male person(John) in the sentence whom one or more persons know or familiar with! However, the french word (théâtre) is a place!

After finishing with the verb connaître, it is time to talk and explain the verb savoir! There are some things that one must be aware of the French verb savoir!

1. The french verb savoir is followed by an infinitive,but the french verb connaitre is never used with an infinitive!Let's observe the first example

Example I.

Je ne sais pas jouer au tennis

Meaning in english:

I don't know how to play tennis

Note: english speakers are aware of (how) in the translation or meaning in english! The english word (how) would mean (comment) in french!Some english speakers would think that (comment) would go after pas and before the infinitive(verb) in this sentence, but it does not at all!Overall, never put (comment) in the middle of savoir+ infinitive. Some of you are probably not clear what is the infinitive. An infinitive means the subsutition of the (verb) follows after another verb. Let's look at an example.

Example II. Tu sais nager!

Meaning in English

You know how to swim

Note: sais is the conguated verb savoir in the sentence

jouer- is the infinitive in the sentence

Additional Note: Never use(comment) middle of savoir + infinitive

Now, dealing with the second part of the verb savoir

2. The verb savoir can be followed by conjuctions in the sentence. Below, here the conjuctions.

The conjuctions
1. ou - meaning in english- where
2. que - meaning in english- that
3. si - meaning in english - so or wheither
4. mais - meaning in english- but
5. pourquoi - meaning in english- why

Let's use an example with one of the conjuctions

Example I.

Je sais que tu vais au resterant

Meaning in english:

I know that you are going to the resterant!

Note: After the conjuating the verb (savoir), the conjuction always follows it in that sentence.

After observing the second part, now here is last part of the verb savoir!

3. The verb savoir also means to know facts,or information!Let's use an example.

Example I.

Nous savons les résultats

Meaning in English:

We know the results

Note: In this sentence, the french word (les résultats) speaks about facts or information! In this sentence(Nous) is a group of people who know the facts or information!


  1. Connaître - Example III.
    "Tu connais Danielle" is used as a question.
    I should be "Tu connais Danielle?"

  2. Why does nearly every sentence on this page end with an exclamation mark? C'est bizarre!

  3. this helped me so much in my french lesson today - thank you so much! c'est fantastique!!

  4. Yo! There's a mistake at Exemple 1:
    Je sais que tu vais au resterant

    should be: 'Je sais que tu vas au restaurant'

  5. RE Example III - Dans l'expression "Les hommes ne connaissaient pas le feu", comment expliquer le verbe connaître, puisque le feu n'est pas un lieu??? Merci d'avance pour les réponses!


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