Conoscere vs sapere

Conoscere vs sapere

The English verb to know is a bit tricky in Italian because you can translate it as conoscere or sapere and the two Italian verbs are not inter-changeable. In general, to know someone/something is translated with conoscere; to know how to do something is sapere. Check out the differences in the following examples:

Do you know Rome well?
Conosci bene Roma? 

Do you know how to drive on Italian roads?
Sai guidare sulle strade italiane? 

Do you know Maria? Do you know it’s her birthday tomorrow?
Conosci Maria? Sai che è il suo compleanno domani? 

Pierino knows this poem by heart.
Pierino sa questa poesia a memoria. 

Do you know who the tall girl is?
Sai chi è la ragazza alta? 

Yes, I’ve known her for a year.
Sì, la conosco da un anno (note how you use the present tense in Italian because you still know the girl).

And now for another ‘false friend’. The English firm and the Italian firma are similar but have totally different meanings. Check this out:

Their firm went bankrupt during the world financial crisis.
La loro ditta è fallita durante la crisi finanziaria mondiale. 

His signature on the contract is very clear.
La sua firma sul contratto è molto chiara.