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I know that there are bright line rules about saber and conocer, when using one instead of the other is just WRONG. But I'm more interested in the times when using either verb results in a grammatically correct sentence, but the meaning is different.

BRIGHT LINES:

Conozco a David. CORRECT. I know/have met David. Sé de David. CORRECT. I know of David. Sé a David. INCORRECT. nonsense.

Sé nadar. CORRECT. I know how to swim. Conozco nadar. INCORRECT. nonsense

SHADES OF MEANING?

¿Conoces la canción? -- Do you know the song? (as in, are you familiar with it?) ¿Sabes la canción? -- Do you know the song? (as in, could you sing it?)

¿Conoces la dirección? -- Do you know the address? (as in, are you familiar with the location? ¿Sabes la dirección? -- Do you know the address? (as in, the exact street and number?)

If anyone can shed light on the areas in shade, I would really appreciate it!

  • It is not clear to me what the problem is since you have distinguished the two verbs throughout. – mdewey Jun 18 at 11:07
  • Thanks for taking the time to look at my question. The problem is that I'm not sure whether my understanding is correct. Maybe I'm over-studying and over-thinking the whole thing! Because another question just came up. – Cora Jun 18 at 14:09
  • Yo no sé a quién preguntarle. = I don't know the identify of whom to ask? OR Yo no conozco a quién preguntarle. = I don't know whom to ask? I found the above example on another Spanish language teaching website, but it just doesn't look right to me. – Cora Jun 18 at 14:10
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¿Conoces la canción? -- Do you know the song? (as in, are you familiar with it?) ¿Sabes la canción? -- Do you know the song? (as in, could you sing it?)

This is in principle correct. Only a minor detail: as you might know, saber is always the verb that is used to refer to abilities. So, if one is (implicitly) discussing an ability, saber tends to sound better when accompanied by a suitable verb:

—¿Conoces la canción X? ¿Quieres que cantemos?
—La conozco, pero no la sé cantar.

(It's not wrong to say simply no la sé. It just makes the thing clearer, especially in this context, when one is contrasting the two kinds of knowledge.)

For the specific meaning of "knowing something by heart" (as in this case the song), one can use the pronominal form of the verb, saberse. This is informal.

—¿Conoces la canción X? ¿Quieres que cantemos?
—La conozco, pero no me la sé.

On to the next example:

¿Conoces la dirección? -- Do you know the address? (as in, are you familiar with the location? ¿Sabes la dirección? -- Do you know the address? (as in, the exact street and number?)

Here the difference is not clear, and you can use either verb with either meaning. Dirección refers specifically to the street address, not to the location. So it's just a piece of information, and conocer is not the most usual choice. You can see the contrast in a dialogue:

—¿Conoces la casa de X?
—La conozco, pero no sé la dirección.

(I've known the house of my neighbors round the corner since I was four because I went to play there, but even today I don't know the address. Conozco la casa pero no [me] sé la dirección.)

Now from your comment:

Yo no sé a quién preguntarle. = I don't know the identify of whom to ask? OR Yo no conozco a quién preguntarle. = I don't know whom to ask?

I would use saber here. What I don't know is a bit of information about the action of asking (preguntar): whom I should ask. Using conocer here would be ungrammatical. One might use it in a rephrased sentence like this:

No conozco a nadie a quien pueda preguntarle.

That is, "I'm not familiar with anyone whom I might ask about it."

Alternatively you can use saber de (No sé de nadie... etc.).

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