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When do you use savoir vs connaître ?

The French verbs savoir and connaître both mean 'to know'. However, they are used in different contexts. 

Savoir is used when you want to say that you know how to do something. In this instance, savoir is followed by an infinitive. For example: I know how to swim: Je sais nager.                                        

Savoir is also used if you want to say 'you know that...'. In this instance, savoir is clearly followed by a subordinate clause (starting with que). For example: I know that she is married: Je sais qu'elle est mariée.

Connaître is used to say that you know someone. For example: I know your brother: Je connais votre frère.

Connaître is also used ot say that you are familiar with someone/something. It can either mean that you know someone/thing well or that you have encountered something. For example, if you were from Nottingham you could say Je connais Nottingham. Similarly, if someone asked you if you know Rihanna's music you could say Oui, je connais la musique de Rihanna.

In some instances, you can use savoir or connaître. Firstly, if you hold a piece of information. For example: I know your number: Je sais/connais ton numéro. Secondly, you can use either verbs if you know something by heart. For example: My daughter knows the alphabet by heart: Ma fille sait/connait l'alphabet par cœur. 

Colleen C. GCSE French tutor, A Level French tutor, Uni Admissions Te...

2 years ago

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