This is usually figured out by reading, but I don't really much in Spanish.

Saber means to know a fact:

sé las noticias de mis abuelos.

Conocer mainly means to be familiar with.

Here is an example that is kinda ambiguous:

David conoce a muchos músicos.

I would usually put sabe based on this one:

David sabe del béisbol.

  • Please edit your question to clearly state what you're confused about. – Kent A. Apr 2 '15 at 1:55
  • Why is it David conoce a muchos múscos, not sabe? – user11355 Apr 2 '15 at 1:56
  • You should edit your question, not add a comment. Right now, you are asking nothing. Please remember that questions in Stack Exchange should also be useful for future visitors. – Gorpik Apr 8 '15 at 8:09
  • ¿qué quieres saber? – Walter Mitty Apr 8 '15 at 14:38

As you posted in your question, we use saber when we want to convey knowledge or mastery of skills and conocer to imply something more like "be familiar with", whether is knowledge or people. Thus, we use conocer, when you know people, but also when you have a decent understanding about something, which is a very similar meaning to saber.

To clarify on your example about "David conoce a muchos músicos." Conoce is OK, since you are conveying that he knows a lot of people (musicians). You could have used saber if you were saying something like

David sabe (mucho) de música David knows (a lot) about music

So, use conocer when you want to say "knows somebody".

In "David is familiar with many (types of) musics" you should go with conocer, implying "his lore about music includes these many different types of musics".

David conoce muchos tipos de música. Conoce músicas étnicas de muchas culturas, música clásica y música moderna.

In "David knows (how to play ) many musics/songs" you need to go with saber (Davis has the knowledge to play these many different instruments or these many different rhythms or musics)

David sabe tocar todos estos instrumentos.

Knowing how to play an instrument is "saber tocar un instrumento" in Spanish. Knowing about the existence of types of music and its intricacies is "conocer esos tipos de música".

To explore more the differences between saber and conocer, you could see this related question (with its answers) or this other.

  • Wait so my example is like david is familiar with many musics. But when I use saber in david sabe a muchos musicas, it means david knows (how to play ) many musics/songs right? – user11355 Apr 2 '15 at 2:11
  • I'll edit the answer and address that. You already had a Spanish translation for the sentence, you the question didn't fully convey that. – Diego Apr 2 '15 at 2:15
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    @Doeser saber a means to taste like. So sabe a muchos músicos means that he tastes like/of many musicians. – user0721090601 Apr 2 '15 at 7:07
  • Omg, I forgot that apply. – user11355 Apr 2 '15 at 11:02
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    @Doeser, "saber" has two meanings: To know something and to taste like something. With the "a" preposition, since like in "saber a" the meaning is "to taste like". "Saber a músico" doesn't make sense (unless you have licked one of the musicians an can describe what they taste like...) – Diego Apr 2 '15 at 19:31

You must use conocer when the meaning of "knowing" is closer to the notion of being familiar or acquainted with something or someone.

And use saber when the meaning of "knowing" is closer to the notion of being able or have skills with something.

In using both words are sometimes confused for non-native speakers, but are quite different: conocer relates with recognition and saber relates to the wisdom.

Therefore, you can't "saber a una persona". You only can "saber" knowledges as data, languages, techniques, science or similar matters.

  • Here is another ambiguous case: mis amigos quieren saber/ conocer mi paiz. – user11355 Apr 2 '15 at 18:55
  • It sounds more like my friends want to know what my country is. Instead of just the country – user11355 Apr 2 '15 at 18:57
  • They want to know a data: the name of the country in which I live. – Rodrigo Apr 2 '15 at 19:20
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    Saber mi país means to know the name of my country. Conocer mi país means know the country itself (the cities, rivers...). – Rodrigo Apr 2 '15 at 19:39
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    Good answer, I think you could really build ought on the facts bit. Saber with nouns always refers to facts about something: saber el nombre, la fecha de nacimiento, el peso de alguien. That is, each individual datum that may be returned by an interrogative as in ¿Sabes qué/dónde/cuál/cómo/cuánto/cuándo …? use saber. Conocer rejects that type of construction – user0721090601 Apr 7 '15 at 23:49

I can see there's been a lot of excellent debate on this matter. I would add, just to help, that the verb saber comes usually with another verb o with a phrase. For example:

Yo sé leer. - I know how to read.

In this first case, saber is related to an ability.

Yo sé que hoy lloverá. - I know that it'll rain today.

In this other case, saber is related to facts that you know. But, in both cases, saber is related to a dominated subject.

Conocer is, on the other hand, a verb that should always be followed by an object (direct or indirect):

Yo conozco París. - I know Paris.

Yo te conozco. I know you.

And, as the rest of commenters have stated, conocer is sometimes a verb that denotes a general state of awareness or general knowledge. But, as we can see, when you KNOW (conocer) someone, or when you know Paris, it means that you genuinely know the person, or place, in a very profound way. This, evidently, will depend on the context. But I'd say that, in most cases, saber and conocer are only different in the way that they build their sentences - saber with phrases or verbs, conocer with objects.


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    Two things: It's a bit misleading to say that "on the other hand", conocer is should always be followed by an object — saber takes direct objects: ¿Sabes que hoy va a llover? Sí, lo sé. Also, conocer rarely takes indirect objects. If you see le with it, it's almost always a case of leísmo (I can't think of any context in which "te lo conozco", would make sense, for instance, and le conoce can always be replaced with lo conoce – user0721090601 Apr 7 '15 at 23:44

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