Spanish Verbs: Saber vs. Conocer

In Spanish, both the verb saber and conocer can be used to express the idea "to know". However, they each have slightly different meanings. Which verb you choose will depend upon the context in which it is used. These two verbs are not interchangeable.

Saber

The verb "saber" is used to express knowledge of a fact or information about something, such as knowing how to swim, knowing how to read, or knowing how to speak a foreign language. When using the conjugated "saber" to communicate knowledge of how "to do" something, it is followed by an infinitive verb. Consider the following examples.

I know where he is.
Yo dónde está.
Do you know how to get to the farm?
¿Sabes tú cómo llegar a la granja?
He knows how to ride a bike.
Él sabe cómo andar en bicicleta.
We know the truth.
Nosotros sabemos la verdad.
They know how to swim.
Ellos saben nadar.

Conocer

The verb "conocer" is used to express that you are acquainted with something, or more likely, someone. You can be acquinted with a movie, book, a place, or a person. Consider the following examples.

I know a good park to have a picnic.
Conozco un buen parque para hacer un picnic.
Do you know my brother?
¿Conoces a mi hermano?
She knows a movie that you'll like.
Ella conoce una película que te gustará.
We are not acquainted with Argentina.
No conocemos Argentina.
Maria is familiar with Spanish literature.
María conoce la literatura española.

Exceptions

In a few instances, saber and conocer are interchangeable. When expressing knowledge or an idea about a subject, discipline or science, either saber or conocer may be used. Either saber or conocer can be used when expressing finding out about new information or news. Review the following examples.

She knows a lot about music theory.
Ella sabe mucho de la teoría musical.
She knows a lot about music theory.
Ella conoce mucho de la teoría musical.
Today he knows the news.
Hoy él se sabe las noticias.
Today he knows the news.
Hoy él se conoce las noticias.