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Difference Between Savoir and Connaitre

Savoir vs Connaitre

Why would I need to learn French in an English class? This is a question I often asked myself. Every week, our English professor would give us a test on French words regarding their spelling, which I hated so much, and a test on the words’ meanings. What’s even more difficult is their pronunciation. Articulating the words was so hard for me since there are many silent Zs. And because there are many silent letters, I also find them hard to spell. Then one time my professor asked me, “What is the difference between savoir and connaitre?” I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “I don’t know.” And that’s where the meanings of the words are derived from the word know. I am not really a fan of French words and expressions, but here are the differences between the two terms. I conducted a little research to be able to share something with you.

From what I have read, “savoir” literally means to know. It is said to be one of the most commonly used French verbs. It has an irregular conjugation and covers different meanings in some cases. Savoir may mean to know a fact, to know by heart, to know how to do something, and to realize. Use “savoir” when your statement denotes a fact. For example, “Gerard knows the culprit.” In French, “Gerard sait le coupable.” If your statement wants to convey the meaning of “to know by heart,” use “savoir.” For example, “I know this book by heart.” In French, “Je sais que ce livre par cœur.” If you are creating a statement depicting the meaning of to know how to do something, “savoir” is the right verb! For example, “Do you know how to swim?” In French, “Savez-vous nager?” And lastly, use the verb “savoir” when your statement is intended to mean “to realize.” For example, “Jess doesn’t realize what he is saying.” In French, “Jess ne réalise pas ce qu’il dit.”

On the other hand, “connaitre” has two meanings. The first one means “to know a person.” The second meaning is “to be familiar with a person or thing.” “Savoir” is to know something really well, but “connaitre” is only up to the extent of knowing someone but not so well. You are only in the familiarity phase with someone.

If you would read more about the difference between “savoir” and “connaitre,” most of what I shared with you is the general gist of it. If you still don’t quite understand these French terms, there are many sources in the library and even online. They will definitely make your French a whole lot easier, and someday you will be better at it. There are also available tutorials on how to conjugate French verbs like “savoir” and “connaitre.” Just keep on reading to understanding things clearly. French may not be a very friendly language to learn, but if you really love French, studying it will just be a breeze for you.

Summary:

  1. “Savoir” and “connaitre” are derived from the main words, “to know.”

  2. “Savoir” and “connaitre” are two French verbs which are commonly interchanged because of usage confusion.

  3. “Savoir” and “connaitre” always seem to confuse English speakers.

  4. “Savoir” is one of the most commonly used French verbs with an irregular conjugation.

  5. “Savoir” means “to know a fact, to know by heart, to know how to do something, and to realize.”

  6. “Connaitre” means “to know a person and to be familiar with a person or a thing very generally.”

  7. “Savoir” means “you know something really” well while “connaitre” means “you are only familiar with someone.”


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1 Comment

  1. Hello.

    French is my first language and I’ve been speaking English fluently for over a decade. You understood the two vervs completely wrong. I’m on my smartphone right now so I won’t take the time to explain, but feel free to e-mail me for a more in-depth explanation.

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