Posted by: janecronin | September 24, 2017


Last week I wrote about the verb “saber” meaning “to know” and we saw that it refers to knowing information or facts.  There is another verb which we also translate as “to know” which is used when we mean “to know” in the sense of “to be familiar with”.  The usual examples are “to know a person or place” although it can also be used to mean “to know a song”, “to know a book” or “to know a television programme” in other words, “to be familiar with”.

In terms of its grammar “conocer” is an uncomplicated verb with only one minor irregularity, which is the first person singular in the present tense, “conozco” (I know).  It is in fact part of a small group of verbs which end in “–cer” or “-cir” in the infinitive, for example “parecer” (to appear, seem) “parezco” (I appear, I seem) and “reducir” (to reduce)  “reduzco” (I reduce”.

“Conocer” is an extremely useful verb to use in general conversation.  When we meet people and learn where they are from or where they live, we often want to tell them that we “know” the place they come from or perhaps some neighbours who live in the same area.  To carry out this type of conversation at a basic level we simple need “conozco” (I know) and “¿conoces?” (Do you know?)  So, here’s the sort of thing I mean:

“Hola, Buenos días, soy Manuel de Madrid.

“Hola, soy Jane, soy inglesa”

“Conozco tu país un poco.  He estado en Brighton”.

“¿Ah sí?  No conozco Brighton.  Soy de Londres.

“¿Conoces Madrid?”

“Sí, conozco Madrid bastante bien.  ¿Conoces a mi amiga Pilar?  Ella es de Madrid también.

“Sí claro que conozco a Pilar.  Es muy amiga mía”.

Okay, I admit it’s not the most inspiring of conversations, but hopefully you can see that quite a bit of common ground can be established basically through the use of “conozco” and “conoces”!!

Another use of this verb is to talk about meeting someone for the first time, or “to get to know”.  Supposing I wanted to say “Yesterday, I met your husband” (that is for the first time), in Spanish this would be “Ayer conocí a tu marido”.  In fact there are several different words in Spanish which translation the English word “meet”, but when it’s for the first time “conocer” is the appropriate one.

A derivative of “conocer” is the adjective “conocido” (well-known), so the Spanish say “known” and miss out the equivalent of “well”.  “Antonio Banderas es un conocido actor”.  And finally, the word for knowledge is “conocimiento”, all those things we’re familiar with.


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