There are two different verbs in Spanish that express the idea “to know”. These two verbs are “saber” and “conocer”. How do you know which one to use?
Conocer is used to express that you are familiar with something or someone.
-Do you know La Paz? — ¿Conoces La Paz?
-Do you know San José downtown? — ¿Conoces el centro de San José?
-Do you know the lady who works at the bank? — ¿Conoces a la señora que trabaja en el banco?
Saber is used to express that you know a fact or know general information.
-Do you know her name? — ¿Sabes su nombre?
-Do you know how to get to Cabo? — ¿Sabes cómo llegar a Cabo?
If you know how to do something (a skill), use “saber”.
-Do you know how to swim? — ¿Sabes nadar?
Notice that you do not need to say “how to”. Just use “saber” plus the skill (a verb in the infinitive form). Here’s a couple more examples:
-Do you know how to drive? — ¿Sabes manejar?
-Do you know how to write? — ¿Sabes escribir?
“Conocer” also means “to meet” but it works only when you meet someone for the very first time. English speakers use “to meet” to describe routine encounters, such as “I met my friend after class for lunch”.
Below is one example in which you can use “conocer”, meaning you “meet” or “met” someone for the first time.
-I met my girlfriend at the fair. — Conocí a mi novia en la feria.
What if you want to visit a place for the very first time? You can use “conocer” to mean “visit” a place for the first time.
-Me gustaría conocer Cabo San Lucas. — I would like “to visit” Cabo San Lucas.
Saber vs Conocer Basic Quiz