I'm taking a course titled 445 Spanish Conversational Connectors at Memrise.com.

One of the items in the course is:

Debo admitir que no conozco la respuesta. | I must admit that I really don’t know the answer.

From all of my Spanish studies up to this point, I've learned that saber is what's appropriate here.

Debo admitir que yo no sé la respuesta. | I must admit that I really don’t know the answer.

Is it ever appropriate to use conocer in such manner? Or is this a mistake in the course?

  • @jalazbe, based on your answer that I have acceoted, would using conocer this way imply that, "I have no frickin' clue what is the answer"? But then using saber the say way merely means, "I don't know the answer"? Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 19:47
  • 1
    You can't allways use "conocer" instead of "saber". For example: "Yo conozco a Luis" it is ok but you could never say "Yo sé a Luis". You can't never say "Yo conozco tocar la guitarra", the only possible way is "Yo sé tocar la guitarra". I know it is hard to see the difference. It is hard to explain too.
    – jalazbe
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 10:54
  • @walen - please, put that in an answer. Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 13:08
  • 1
    Rock (is that what I should call you?), I think of conocer in this context as "I'm [not] familiar with etc." See for example the comment I wrote at spanish.stackexchange.com/a/22039/9385. (Sorry, I don't know how to link to a comment.) Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 13:18
  • @aparente001, your usage of 'conocer' that you linked to has done sooo much to increase my understanding. I love examples!!!! Thank you. Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 5:58

1 Answer 1


The answer depends on one thing.

  • Was the question you want to answer something new to you?. Was this the first time you met that question?

    If this is the case then the correct answer is: "Debo admintir que no conozco la respuesta"

  • Was the question something you were taught before? or something you were suposed to know and have forgotten?

    If this is the case then the correct answer is: "Debo adminitir que no sé la respuesta".

I'll put here a link to Instituto Cervantes since they have (in this article) extensively explain the difference. I have made a summary:

La diferencia entre los verbos «saber» y «conocer» es uno de los problemas léxicos que presentan los estudiantes de lenguas que cuentan con una sola palabra para ambas ideas, caso del inglés, por ejemplo.

En general, lo mejor que se puede hacer es intentar entender las oposiciones lingüísticas (sean del tipo que sean) desde ejemplos y frases concretas.

No existen diferencias "abstractas" a priori fuera de los ejemplos concretos.

La vía de ataque para comprender la diferencia entre estos dos verbos no hay que ir a buscarla en la lógica o filosófica sino que la encontraremos en la recogida de ejemplos.

(La descripción que hacen los gramáticos del lenguaje va por el lado de explicar filosófica o lógicamente los contrastes entre una unidad y otra (ejemplo "ser" o "estar" en vez de ir a descubrir dichos contrastes en lo que la gente dice con lo que dice.)


  • Is about a knowledge obtained through memory or study. Se la lista de los reyes Visigodos. (It means I know all the names in that list)
  • Is a knowledge assimilated by the subject, abilities. Sé hablar francés.

Example: Si decimos que alguien sabe cuál es el mejor restaurante de la ciudad, pero no lo conoce, queremos decir que ha aprendido, asimilado (o tiene) dicha información, pero que no ha estado allí. Lo mismo en frases como «Juan sabe el camino, pero no lo conoce»


  • Is more about "have been in contact with". Conozco la lista de reyes visigodos españoles (It means that I used to know it -when I was in school- but I don't any more)

  • Is about things that have an independent existance from the person that knows them.

  • Things we are taught but have no experience

A few examples.

  • Yo conozco la canción de Elton John pero no me la sé. (It means I know of it's existance but I can't sing it because I don't know the words).
  • Marta sabe el camino a Madrid pero no lo conoce. (She has study the way to Madrid but has never gone to Madrid.
  • Conocí a Peter ayer pero no sé de dónde es. (I met Peter yesterday but I don't know where he is from)

I leave another link to information regarding "saber" and "Conocer"

  • So, according to your answer, the manner in which conocer is used in my original post is absolutely incorrect? Would NEVER be used in such manner? Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 17:02
  • Right now I am not sure of the grammatically correct answer. Give me a few more minutes.
    – jalazbe
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 17:11
  • I have found it is difficult to explain the difference. I just hope I have helped you.
    – jalazbe
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 18:15
  • Most definitely you have helped me. I now understand why the use of conocer exhibited in the OP can be appropriate. Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 19:42
  • hablar francés not Se hablar francés.
    – snoram
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 23:04

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