Savoir – to know

Savoir - French verb
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Knowing French Verb

The French verb savoir usually means "to know." It has irregular conjugations in just about every tense and mood, and somewhat different meanings in a couple of those.

Savoir + noun

To know a fact, to know by heart

Savez-vous l’heure ?   Do you know the time?
Je sais beaucoup de chansons.   I know a lot of songs by heart.

Savoir + infinitive

To know how to do something

Je sais conduire.   I know how to drive.
Il ne sait pas le faire.   He doesn’t know how to do it.

Savoir + clause

To know, realize

Tu ne sais pas ce que tu fais.   You don’t realize what you’re doing.
Il sait bien qu’il a tort.   He knows very well that he’s wrong.

 Meaning changes

Savoir has different meanings in the passé composé and conditional.

Passé composé

Savoir = to learn, find out

J’ai enfin su ce qu’il s’était passé.   I finally found out what had happened.
Qu’en avez-vous su ?   What did you find out about it?

Conditional

Savoir = to be able to (very formal)

Sauriez-vous répondre à des questions ?   Could you possibly answer some questions?
Je ne saurais pas vous renseigner.   I’m afraid I can’t give you any information

 Savoir is one of the small number of French verbs that can be made negative with the ne littéraire (ne without pas).

Je le lui ai dit je ne sais combien de fois.   I’ve told him countless times.
Je ne saurais vous aider.   I wouldn’t know how to help you.

 Savoir vs connaître

Savoir in action

 Related lessons

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Savoir - to know
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