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French grammar - The two ways to know - savoir and connataire

The two ways to know - savoir and connataire

French has two common verbs - savoir and connaître - both of which can translate to 'to know' in English.

However, they have distinctly different uses:

savoir means 'to know information' or 'to know how to do something' (knowhow).

-- It is one of those verbs that can be followed immediately (without a preposition) by an infinite verb - 'to know how to do something'. The word comment ('how') is not required.

-- Note however that in the passé composé (avoir su) means 'to have found out.

connaître means 'to know' in the sense of being personally familiar with or having experienced something oneself.

-- It must always be followed by a noun - never a verb.

Examples:
Je sais ton nom.
I know your (familiar) name.

Je connais ton nom. is also common

Je sais les paroles de cette chanson.
I know the words of this song.

Je connais les paroles... is also accepatble

Tu sais où il habite ?
Do you know where he lives?
Savez-vous quand ils arrivent ?
Do you know when they arrive?
Je ne sais pas pourquoi il a dit ça.
I don't know why he said that.
Je sais danser.
I know how to dance. *OR* I can dance.

comment (how) is not required

Il sait très bien parler français.
He knows how to speak French very well. *OR* He can speak French very well.

comment (how) is not required

Ma fille ne sait pas encore nager.
My daughter doesn't know how to swim yet.

comment (how) is not required

Tu sais qu'il vient ? Oui, je sais.
Do you know he's coming? Yes I know.
Le saviez-vous ?
Do you know that?

Or colloquially 'Do you know ?'

Je l'ai su hier.
I found out yesterday.
Je connais cette chanson.
I know this song.
Tu connais mon amie Sylvie ?
Do you know my friend Sylvie?
Est-ce que vous connaissez Paris ?
Do you know Paris?

Or effectively 'Have you been to Paris?'

Connaissez-vous l'actrice française Catherine Deneuve ?
Do you know the French actress Catherine Deneuve?
Je la connais mais je ne l'ai jamais rencontrée.
I know her but I've never met her.
Est-ce que vous connaissez Carcassonne ?
Do you know Carcassonne?
Non, je ne la connais pas, mais j'ai entendu parler de cette ville.
No, I don't know it, but I've heard of this town.

Here la perhaps refers to la ville de Carcassonne

Gabriel est un acteur connu de tout le monde.
Gabriel is an actor known to everyone.

être connu has the sense of 'to be famous' or at least 'to be well know'

Je connais bien les romans de Victor Hugo.
I know the novels of Victor Hugo well.
Est-ce que tu sais qui c'est ?
Do you know who it is?
Oui je sais qui c'est, mais je ne le connais pas personnellement.
Yes I know who it is, but I don't know him personally.
Est-ce que vous savez où se trouve la poste ?
Do you know where the post office is?
Non, je ne sais pas où est la poste.
No, I don't know where the post office is.
Je connais très bien cette ville.
I know this town very well.
Oui, je sais que Berlin est la capitale de l'Allemagne mais je ne la connais pas.
Yes I know Berlin is the capital of Germany but I have not been there.