Si quiero decir

He knows a little Spanish

¿Qué verbo necesito usar: 'saber' o 'conocer'? Yo pienso que la frase es similar a "él _____ un poco de español", pero no sé qué verbo necesito usar entre 'saber' y 'conocer'.

También, si es diferente, si quiero decir

He knows all of Spanish

¿Necesito usar el mismo verbo? ¿O es diferente?


If I want to say

He knows a little Spanish

which verb should I use: 'saber' or 'conocer'? I assume that the phrase is something like "él _____ un poco de español", but I’m not sure of which verb I should use between 'saber' and 'conocer'.

Additionally, if it is different, should I want to say

He knows all of Spanish

would I use the same verb or would it change?

4 Answers 4


We use "saber" when we want to convey knowledge or mastery of skills:

Él sabe hablar español.

Él sabe un poco de español. Lo suficiente como para defenderse.

Mi abuela sabe coser. Mi abuelo sabe jugar al mus muy bien.

Mi padre sabe todos los nombres de los ríos de España.

El profesor me preguntó y quedó contento porque yo me sabía la lección.

For "He knows all of Spanish", if you are referring to a skill or knowledge, use saber too.

If you were saying instead: "He knows all his neighbors in the village", you would use "conocer", (which conveys a meaning more like "be familiar with").

Él conoce a todos sus vecinos.

Él es un gran viajero y conoce toda España (conveying, "has been in a lot of places; He knows many cities and towns")


Saber connotes knowledge, Conocer connotes acquaintance/familiarity. You would use conocer when referring to familiarity of a person, place, etc..

So use saber in this case.

Note, however, that conocimiento translates as knowledge

Él sabe un poco de español;tiene poco conocimiento del idioma.

  • Yes, conocimiento is knowledge; by comparison, sabidura is wisdom.
    – Pesta
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 23:59

Are you really trying to say that he knows a little Spanish? In a lot of colloquial situations, one might say that he "speaks a little Spanish".

This could be

Él habla español un poco.

or simply

Habla español un poco.

I've heard this a lot more than either saber or conocer for this, but you may not mean what I think you mean.


Conocer- Only used to refer to a subject on a more personal level; an aquaintance; associated with people; commonly followed by a then the subject. Por ejemplo: Conoces a Maria, mi hermana?

Saber- Used to refer to a subject of which you have knowledge of but not necessarily on a personal level; associated with things; sometimes followed by de or que then the subject Por ejemplo: Sabes de barcelona fc?

But it gets tricky because sometimes saber can be used to refer to a person. Por ejemplo: Sabes de Lionel Messi de Barcelona fc? Sí lo . And sometimes conocer can be used to refer to things Por ejemplo: Mis amigos conocen la ciudad de Madrid

The determining factor is if the subject is well known to the person i.e. the person has experience with the subject as opposed to when the subject is not really connected with but just has an idea about

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.