Today we will see the difference between the verb connaitre and savoir.

They are used differently and one cannot replace the other.

This is a fairly common mistake that many students of French make. It's a mistake I hear often in my French conversation group, Ohlala French Coffee.

I'll explain the difference between the two and give you some tips on how to use them properly and we'll do a little test right after to make sure you understand. 

"Connaitre" and "savoir" can be a problem for you, because in some languages, there is only one word to say it, like in English "to know".

In French, we have two words that are used differently. Their meaning has a slight nuance.

Let's take a closer look!


Connaitre :

The verb "Connaitre" is a verb of the 3ᵉ group. It is conjugated this way in the present tense:

Je connais
Tu connais
Il / Elle connait
Nous connaissons
Vous connaissez
Ils / elles connaissent

The past participle of the verb "connaitre" is “connu” : J’ai connu.


The verb "Connaitre" refers to the fact of being informed, aware of the existence of something. We use the verb "Connaitre" when we identify something.

For example : Je connais très bien la ville de Paris. (I know the city of Paris very well.)


We can also use the verb "Connaitre" when we talk about having acquired knowledge

For example : Je connais les verbes irréguliers en français. (I know the irregular verbs in French.)


Savoir :

Le verbe “Savoir” est aussi un verbe du 3ème groupe. Il se conjugue de cette façon au présent de l’indicatif :

Je sais
Tu sais
Il / Elle sait
Nous savons 
Vous savez
Ils / Elles savent

The past participle of the verb “savoir” is “su” : j’ai su


The verb "Savoir" means to be informed about how to do something, it means to have the ability to do something.

For example : Je sais conduire. (I know how to drive)


It also means to be informed about something

For example : Je sais que tu seras là demain. (I know you will be here tomorrow.)


Ebook connaitre or savoir exercices


Connaitre or savoir ?

To distinguish the two more easily, there is a little trick. Let's look at these two sentences:

Je connais les paroles de cette chanson. (I know the words to this song.)

Je sais chanter les paroles de cette chanson. (I can sing the words to this song)

After "Je connais", we have a nominal group, i.e. a noun or a pronoun with determiners or one or more adjectives.

After "Je sais", we will find a verbal group, therefore a verb conjugated or not with one or more verb complements.

The important thing to remember is that with "Connaitre" we have a noun or a pronoun.

For example :
Je connais bien ta sœur.
Tu connais Lisa.
Il connait ce film.
Nous le connaissons bien.
Est-ce que vous connaissez ce beau poème ?
Elles connaissent mon numéro de téléphone.

(I know your sister well.
You know Lisa.
He knows this movie.
We know it well.
Do you know this beautiful poem?
They know my phone number.)


With "Savoir" we will always have a verb that designates an action.

For example :
Je sais parler français.
Est-ce que tu sais comment aller chez lui ?
Elle est partie quand elle a su que tu arrivais. 
Nous savons que tu vas bien.
Savez-vous qu’il sera là demain ?
Ils savent comment accueillir les invités.

(I can speak French.
Do you know how to get to his house?
She left when she heard you were coming. 
We know you're okay.
Do you know that he will be here tomorrow?
They know how to welcome guests.)

We can find after the verb "Savoir" subordinates like "that, who, how, where, etc" which is not possible with the verb "Connaitre".



  • Connaitre + noun or pronoun

  • Savoir + verb


Let's do a test to see if you got it right: