Lesson: Understanding Connaître vs Savoir in French – differences connaître and savoir


Can you make a clear distinction between “savoir” and “connaître”? Try to get 100 percent on this quiz


In French, “connaître” and “savoir” are two verbs that often confuse English speakers due to their nuanced uses that both relate to “knowing” something in English. Let’s dive into when and how to use each verb effectively.

“Connaître” – To Be Familiar With

“Connaître” is used followed by a noun and means to be familiar with, to have been to, or to be able to identify something or someone.


  • Je connais cet endroit.             I am familiar with this place.
  • Tu connais Londres.                  You know London.
  • Il connaît Mohamed.                 He knows Mohamed.
  • Nous connaissons la raison de son absence.       We know the reason for his absence.

Note: “Connaître” is about personal acquaintance or familiarity with people, places, or things through experience.

“Savoir” – To Know How or Know That

“Savoir” is more about knowing facts, how to do something, or knowing that something is the case.

Savoir + Infinitive

Used to indicate knowing how to do something.


  • Je sais nager.                         I know how to swim.
  • Tu sais parler allemand.   You know how to speak German.

Savoir + Proposition

Used for knowing specific information or facts.


  • Elle sait que tu aimes les crêpes.           She knows you like crepes.
  • Nous savons quand partir.                        We know when to leave.

Savoir + Nom (Rare)

“Savoir” followed by a noun is less common and usually pertains to memorized knowledge.


  • Je sais bien ma leçon.                    I know my lesson well — implying memorization.
  • Savoir l’heure                                    to know the time
  • Vous ne savez pas la nouvelle ? Don’t you know the news?

Important: “Savoir” followed by a noun is specific to memorized facts, not personal acquaintance.

Pronouns with “Connaître” and “Savoir”

  • Connaître with pronouns: Je le connais (I know him), Je la connais (I know her), Je les connais (I know them) – referring to people.
  • Savoir with pronouns: Je le sais (I know it) – referring to facts or things, never people.

Example Clarification:

  • Tu connais Pierre? Oui, je le connais.          Do you know Pierre? Yes, I know him.
  • Incorrect: Tu sais Pierre.
  • Correct: Tu connais Pierre.


differences connaître and savoir