Savoir or Connaitre Quiz – do you know?

The two verbs can both be translated as ‘to know’ but generally have distinct meanings.

Just to keep things interesting though, there are also two overlapping meanings- you gotta love the French language!


Savoir is used when there’s another verb involved. When that verb is an infinitive (full verb), the English equivalent is “to know how* to.”

Je sais faire du feu.     I know how to build a fire

Il ne sait pas nager     He doesn’t know how to swim.

* The word “how” is implicit in French and must not be translated; do not say :

Je sais comment faire du feu

When the other verb is in a subordinate clause (a secondary phrase with a conjugated verb), savoir indicates knowledge of that fact or action.

Je sais qu’elle va être en retard.        I know she’s going to be late.

Il sait quand tu as trouvé la clé.         He knows when you found the key.


Connaître must be used with a direct object, which may be a person, place, or thing. While connaître can be translated by “to know,” it may be helpful to think of it as “to be familiar with”.

Est-ce que tu connais Jean ?              Do you know John ?

Elle ne connait pas Paris.                   She isn’t familiar with Paris.

Je connais bien le français.                I know a lot of French.

C’est un bon restaurant, nous            It’s a good restaurant, we’ve been
le connaissons depuis 1 an.              
been familiar with it for 1 year.

Savoir vs Connaître in the passé composé

Both verbs have different meanings in the passé composé.

Savoir = to learn, to find out:

J’ai su que tu avais menti                  I knew/found out that you’d lied

Il n’a jamais su son prénom              He never knew/learnt her name

Connaitre = to have met/got to know someone:

J’ai connu mon mari au travail         I met my husband at work

Elle n’a jamais connu ses parents   She never knew/met her parents

Savoir or Connaître

Two other meanings of “to know” can be translated by either verb.

1) To know a bit of information

Il sait mon numéro de téléphone            He knows my phone number

Il connait mon numéro de téléphone    He knows my phone number

2) To know by heart, to have something memorized

Je sait le poème par coeur                         He knows the poem by heart

Je connais le poème par coeur                 He knows the poem by heart

So… how well do you know ‘to know’?


Why not try one of our other quizzes?

Try something different to improve your French – Rosetta Stone or this great book form amazon


  1. I will try and memorise par coeur! Merci

  2. First term: “Trying”
    second term: “Still trying”
    Third term: “Still very trying”.

  3. 7/10, must try harder (or as one teacher wrote) ‘tries hard, especially me’.

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