Conocer in Spanish: Conjugation, Meaning & Uses


In this short guide, we will cover the following topics for ‘conocer’ in Spanish:

  1. What does ‘Conocer’ mean?
  2. Conocer Conjugations
  3. How to Use ‘Conocer’ in Spanish
  4. Expressions & Idioms with ‘Conocer’
  5. Synonyms of ‘Conocer’ in Spanish

What does ‘Conocer’ mean?

Definition – ‘Conocer’ expresses that someone is familiar or is able to identify a certain topic or person. It is also used to talk about the places that someone knows or has visited. Conocer is more commonly translated as ‘to know’. 

Below I’ve listed the most common contexts for using conocer along with their English translations: 

  1. When talking about having some knowledge or being familiar with a topic, ‘conocer’ means ‘to know’
  2. If referring to a person, conocer means ‘to know’ or ‘to meet’. 
  3. When describing the places or locations that someone knows or has visited, ‘conocer’ means ‘to know’.  

Take Note: In Spanish, the verbs ‘conocer’ and ‘saber’ are often used as synonyms in some situations. ‘Conocer’ is used when someone is familiar with a topic or event; whereas ‘saber’ implies that someone has a deep knowledge about a topic. Here you can learn more about the difference between ‘conocer’ and ‘saber’ in Spanish.

‘Conocer’ Conjugations 

Depending on the tense, ‘conocer’ might have some irregularities. To put it simply, in order to keep the same sounds, in some conjugations you’ll need to change the spelling from ‘C’ to ‘-ZC’. 

graphic explaining conocer stem changes in spanish

Take Note: In Spanish, ‘conocer’ can also work as a reciprocal verb. In this context, we use this verb to express that two or more people are acquaintances or know each other pretty well. Conocerse follows a reflexive conjugation and it means ‘to know’, ‘to be friends’ or ‘to meet’. 

Sebastián y yo nos conocemos desde que somos chicos
Sebastian and I have known each other since we’re little     

Indicative

Present tense conjugation

To conjugate conocer in the present tense, you’ll use the stem ‘conoc’. However, notice that yo uses the irregular stem conozc. Remember that this spelling change is made to preserve the pronunciation of the verb. You can check the endings for each subject in the table below. 

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoconozcoI know
conocesYou know
Él / Ella / UstedconoceHe/She knows
NosotrosconocemosWe know
VosotrosconocéisYou know
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasconocenThey/You know

Preterite tense conjugation

In the preterite tense, conocer is a regular verb. This means that after obtaining the stem (eliminate the ‘-er’ from the infinitive form), you’ll add the corresponding endings to conoc. 

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoconocíI knew
conocisteYou knew
Él / Ella / UstedconocíaHe/She knew
NosotrosconocimosWe knew
VosotrosconocisteisYou knew
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasconocieronThey/You knew

Imperfect tense conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoconocíaI knew
conocíasYou knew
Él / Ella / UstedconocíaHe/She knew
NosotrosconocíamosWe knew
VosotrosconocíaisYou knew
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasconocíanThey/You knew

Future tense conjugation

Conocer in the future tense doesn’t have any irregular changes. So, to conjugate this verb in both the future and conditional tense, you’ll add the corresponding endings to the infinitive form conocer. 

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoconoceréI will know
conocerásYou will know
Él / Ella / UstedconoceránHe/She will know
NosotrosconoceremosWe will know
VosotrosconoceréisYou will know
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasconoceránThey/You will know

Conditional tense conjugation

Just like the future conjugation, to build the conditional tense with ‘conocer’, you’ll keep the infinitive form and add the endings underlined in the table below.

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoconoceríaI would know
conoceríasYou would know
Él / Ella / UstedconoceríaHe/She would know
NosotrosconoceríamosWe would know
VosotrosconoceríaisYou would know
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasconoceríanThey/You would know

Progressive Tenses

conjugation chart explaining how to conjugate conocer in progressive tenses

Perfect Tenses

conjugation chart explaining how to conjugate conocer in perfect tenses in spanish

Por fin hemos conocido a tu novia
We finally met your girlfriend 

Tú y yo nos habíamos conocido el año pasado
You and I had met each other last year

Conocer Subjunctive Conjugations

Present subjunctive conjugation

In the present subjunctive, ‘conocer’ is an irregular verb. This means that, in order to keep consistent pronunciation, you’ll use the stem conozc and the endings underlined in the table below. 

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoconozcaTo know
conozcasTo know
Él / Ella / UstedconozcaTo know
NosotrosconozcamosTo know
VosotrosconozcáisTo know
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasconozcanTo know

Imperfect subjunctive conjugations

PersonConjugationTranslation
Yoconociera / conocieseI knew
conocieras / conociesesYou knew
Él / Ella / Ustedconociera / conocieseHe/She knew
Nosotrosconociéramos / conociésemosWe knew
Vosotrosconocierais / conocieseisYou knew
Ustedes / Ellos / Ellasconocieran / conociesenThey/You knew

Perfect subjunctive 

conjugation chart showing how to conjugate conocer perfect subjunctive

Si Mike no nos hubiera prestando, no te habría conocido
If Mike wouldn’t have introduced us, I wouldn’t have met you

Imperative

Imperative conjugation

To conjugate in the imperative form, notice that ‘conocer’ uses both its regular and irregular stems. For nosotros and ustedes, you’ll use ‘conozc’ while for and vosotros, you’ll work with ‘conoc’. Remember that these changes are followed for pronunciation purposes.   

PersonConjugationTranslation
conoceKnow
NosotrosconozcamosLet’s know
VosotrosconocedKnow
UstedesconozcanKnow

Take Note: The negative imperative of ‘conocer’ is formed by following the present subjunctive conjugation of ‘conocer’. By adding the word ‘no’ in front of the verb and using the proper tone of voice, you’ll create the negative imperative. 

How to Use ‘Conocer’ in Spanish with Examples

There are three main uses of the verb ‘conocer’ in Spanish:

  1. To express that we are familiar with a topic or event
  2. To talk about meeting someone 
  3. To talk about visiting a place 

We will provide a more detailed explanation of how to use these verbs in different situations. The examples and phrase structures below will help you apply conocer properly in different contexts. 

Expressing familiarity with a topic 

The verb ‘conocer’ in Spanish is used to express that a person is familiar or is able to identify certain topics. Even though it’s translated as to know, keep in mind that this verb doesn’t express deep knowledge. Check the examples and phrase structure below: 

[Conocer conjugated] + (determiner) + [topic or event]

Conozco las reglas del ajedrez, pero no sé jugar muy bien
I know the rules of chess, but I don’t know how to play very well

Los alumnos conocen el título, pero no han leído el libro
The students know the title, but they haven’t read the book

Rogelio conoce poco sobre el tema, así que no opinó
Rogelio knows little about the subject, so he had no opinion

Describing that a person meets or knows someone

One of the most common uses of ‘conocer’ in Spanish is to describe that a person knows, meets or is familiar with someone else. As a result, in this context, ‘conocer’ is the direct translation of ‘to meet’ or ‘to know’. 

[Conocer conjugated] + [preposition ‘a’] + [noun]

Mi mamá quiere conocerte
My mom wants to meet you

¿Conoces a Arturo? Es mi hermano
Do you know Arturo? He is my brother

Me gustaría que conocieras a mi colega
I would like you to meet my colleague

Conocemos a la familia de Manuel desde hace 15 años
We have known Manuel’s family for 15 years.

Take Note: Notice that examples #2 to #4 use the preposition ‘a’ to introduce the person or group of people that someone knows or is going to meet. If this is already clear by the context, you’ll use a direct object pronoun instead to replace this information (example #1).  

[Direct object pronoun] + [conocer conjugated]

¿Quién es esa chava? No la conozco

Who is that girl? I don’t know her

Talking about places you know or have visited

In Spanish, ‘conocer’ is also used to  talk about ‘knowing places’ like countries, cities, buildings or establishments by having visited them at some point. Below is a phrase structure with the elements that you need to use to build sentences with this meaning. In these cases, it can be translated as ‘to know’ or ‘to visit’.

[Conocer conjugated] + [building or place]

¿Conoces las playas de Oaxaca?
Do you know the beaches of Oaxaca?

¿Conocen el Volcán Tacaná? 
Do you guys know the Tacaná Volcano? 

¿Conocieron la Torre Latinoamericana cuando fueron a México? 
Did you visit the Torre Latinoamericana when you went to Mexico?

Conocer Expressions & Idioms

Here are some expressions and idioms with conocer that you can use to increase your vocabulary and improve your Spanish conversations. 

Conocer de vista: In Spanish, this expression is used when talking about knowing a person by having seen him or her on certain occasions without having spoken. It can be translated as ‘to know someone by sight’.

Conocer el percal: This expression means that someone knows what a situation is about or knows someone perfectly well. It can be translated as ‘to know what the score is’.

Te conozco, mosco: This informal Spanish phrase is used to express that a person cannot fool us because we already know him or her. It is translated as ‘I got your number’ or ‘I already know you’. 

Acabo de conocer: It literally means ‘I have just met someone’, as a result, this expression is perfect to inform people about the new friends that you just made. Remember that, in some contexts, acabar means ‘just’.  

Synonyms of ‘Conocer’ in Spanish

Saber: This verb in Spanish is used when someone has the ability to perform an activity or has knowledge about a topic. Although, it is also translated as ‘to know’ there are some nuances in meaning between conocer and saber that you need to keep in mind. 

Visitar: When talking about places like countries or establishments, this verb can be used instead of ‘conocer’. As a result, ‘visitar’ can be translated as ‘to visit’.

Related Resource
Difference between ‘saber’ and ‘conocer’ in Spanish
‘Saber’ vs ‘Conocer’ quiz
Spanish reciprocal verbs

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I’ve taught Spanish in Mexico to a wide array of foreigners. From students and tourists to doctors and soldiers who’ve moved and visited here over the years. During the day I’m a freelancer and marketer, while at night I’m here writing for students of the world wide web looking to learn Spanish. I hope you find what you’re looking here during your journey into Español 🙂 Read More About Me

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