How to Say to Know in Italian – Verbs Sapere and Conoscere

Understanding the unique characteristics of verb tenses is crucial for efficient communication when learning Italian.

Learners usually have trouble with the verbs “sapere” and “conoscere.” They both mean “to know” in English, but they have sometimes different applications.

In order to allow you to use these two important verbs with confidence let’s analyze the differences between them.

As said before, many languages use just one verb for the verbs conoscere and sapere, such as the English verb to know.

These verbs can also be used as a synonym in Italian:


“Conosco le regole della grammatica italiana” or “So le regole della grammatica italiana”. (I know the rules of grammar in Italian.)

In many cases, however, knowing and knowing are not synonymous.

Let’s discover the differences between them.

Look at these examples to see how Verbs Sapere and Conoscere are used.

  • Conosci i tuoi compagni di classe?
  • Sai cucinare?
  • Sapete usare il computer?
  • Sai come si chiama la ragazza di Fabio.
  • Il Papa è conosciuto in tutto il mondo.
  • Sai l’italiano?

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Choose the right verb for these phrases: SAPERE or CONOSCERE?

Grammar explanation

Italian has two verbs that mean “to know”

What’s the difference between sapere and conoscere?


Sapere means to know something or a fact.

Sapere” is used when you want to express knowledge of facts, information, or skills. It implies having an understanding of something rather than being acquainted with a person or place.

We use SAPERE:

To indicate that you know something (in a phrase with a noun)

Marco sa il tuo indirizzo (Marco knows your address)

Io non so il tuo nome (I don’t know your name)

To indicate that you know that/ if (With a phrase introduced by CHE/SE)

So che lui è felice (I know that he is happy)

Loro non sanno che io sono qui (They don’t know that I’m here)

To indicate that you know how to do something (in a phrase with an infinitive verb)

Sapere + infinitive means to know how to do something, that we have an ability or a skill.

Lucia sa cucinare (Lucia knows how to cook)

Mario sa nuotare molto bene (Mario knows how to swim very well)

To indicate the taste or the smell of something

Sapere di” means to taste/smell of.

Questo tè è molto buono. Sa di menta. (This tea is very good. It tastes like mint)


Conoscere means to be acquainted/familiar with something or somebody.

Conoscere” is used when you want to convey familiarity or personal acquaintance with people, places, or things. It implies a deeper connection, often related to personal experience or relationships.


To indicate that if you know someone

Claudia, conosci un buon medico? (Claudia, do you know a good doctor?)

Noi non conosciamo tuo zio (We do not know your uncle)

Conosci Gianni Rossi? (Do you know Gianni Rossi?)

No, ma conosco sua moglie Chiara. (No, but I know his wife, Chiara.)

To indicate that you are familiar with something or a place

Conosci Milano? (Are you familiar with Milan?)

Conosco un buon ristorante qui vicino (I know a good restaurant near here)

Quella professoressa conosce molto bene la matematica.
(That professor knows Mathematics very well.)

Quell’uomo conosce Milano come le sue tasche (That man knows Milano like the back of his hand.

How to Say to Know in Italian - Verbs Sapere and Conoscere

Sapere vs conoscere: Italian conjugation

How to Say to Know in Italian - Verbs Sapere and Conoscere


Sapere qualcosa per esperienza (to know something from experience )

Sapere il fatto proprio (to know what’s what)

Saperla lunga (di) (to know a lot (about);)

Saperci fare (to be good at something, know how to do something)

Saperne una più del diavolo (to have more than one trick up one’s sleeve)

Sapere ascoltare (to be a good listener)

Buono a sapersi! (That’s good to know!)

Che io sappia… (As far as I know . . .)

Che ne so io! (How should I know!)

Non ne so niente. (I don’t know anything about it.)

Senza saperlo (unknowingly)

Non sapere fare altro che (to know only how to do)

✎ Es: Non sai fare altro che lamentarti. (All you know how to do is complain.)

✎ Es.: Non voglio che si sappia in giro. (I don’t want people to know about it.)


conoscere un luogo come le proprie tasche (to know a place like the back of one’s hand)

conoscere il proprio mestiere (to know one’s trade/ job/line of work)

conoscersi (to know each other, meet each other)

conoscersi di vista (to know each other by sight)

conoscere mezzo mondo (to know everybody)

farsi conoscere (to make oneself known)

conoscere un luogo come le proprie tasche (to know a place like the back of one’s hand)

conoscere il proprio mestiere (to know one’s trade/ job/line of work)

conoscersi (to know each other, meet each other)

conoscersi di vista (to know each other by sight)

conoscere mezzo mondo (to know everybody)

farsi conoscere (to make oneself known)

Note that with names of places, conoscere is often the equivalent of English “have ever been to“.

Conosci Firenze? (Have you ever been to Florence?)

No, non conosco la Toscana. (No, I’ve never been to Tuscany.)

CONOSCI Roma? –> (Do you know Rome?/Are you acquainted with Rome?)

How to Say to Know in Italian - Verbs Sapere and Conoscere

sai dov'è roma?

SAI dov’è Roma? –> (Do you know where Rome is?)

The passato prossimo of CONOSCERE is often equivalent to English “met someone“.

Non sapevo che conoscevi il direttore. (I didn’t know you knew the director.)

Sì, l’ho conosciuto l’anno scorso. (Yes, I do. I met him last year.)

The passato prossimo of SAPERE is often equivalent to English “found out“.

Ho gridato di gioia quando ho saputo che la nostra squadra aveva vinto. (I shouted with joy when I found out that our team had won.)

Quando avete saputo cosa è accaduto a Roma? (When did you find out what happened in Rome?)


Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

This additional practice should help reinforce your understanding of how to correctly use “sapere” and “conoscere” in Italian. Keep practising, and you’ll become more confident in your use of these verbs!

Choose the right verb for these phrases: SAPERE or CONOSCERE?

Developing proficiency with the use of “sapere” and “conoscere” will certainly enhance your Italian language skills.

Therefore, these verbs will be your reliable skills in navigating the Italian “bella lingua“, whether you want to know which gelato flavours are the greatest in Rome (sapere) or whether you want to know if your Italian friend Giorgio is known by somenone (conoscere).


What’s next?

You might want to keep learning Italian online with these free resources:

Learn more about Italian verbs CUCINARE & CUOCERE

What's next?

Facebook group


Join and visit our Facebook Group for Italian Learners


Leave a Reply