Languages › German How to Say 'Know' in German Using Kennen, Wissen and Können Share Flipboard Email Print Westend61/Getty Images German Vocabulary History & Culture Pronunciation & Conversation Grammar By Hyde Flippo German Expert Hyde Flippo taught the German language for 28 years at high school and college levels and published several books on the German language and culture. our editorial process Hyde Flippo Updated January 27, 2019 There really are three German verbs that can be translated as "to know" in English! But German-speakers don't really have to worry about it, and you won't either after you've covered this lesson. The two main German verbs that mean "to know" are kennen and wissen. A third verb, können, is a modal verb that usually means "to be able" or "can" — but in certain situations can also mean "to know." (Learn more about modals in Part 3 of this lesson.) Here are three different "know" examples, with three different German verbs, that translate into English "know" sentences. Ich weiß Bescheid.I know about it.Wir kennen ihn nicht.We don't know him.Er kann Deutsch.He knows German. Each example above represents a different meaning of "know." In fact, in many other languages (including French, German, Italian and Spanish), unlike English, there are usually two different verbs used to express English "know." These other languages have one verb that means "to know a person" or "to be acquainted with" (a person or something), and another verb that means "to know a fact" or "to know about something." The Differences Between Kennen, Wissen and Können In German, kennen means "to know, be familiar with" and wissen means "to know a fact, know when/how." German-speakers always know (wissen) when to use which one. If they are talking about knowing a person or being familar with something, they will use kennen. If they are talking about knowing a fact or knowing when something will happen, they'll use wissen. In most cases, German uses können (can) to express the idea of knowing how to do something. Often such sentences can also be translated using "can" or "is able to." The German ich kann Französisch equals "I can (speak, write, read, understand) French" or "I know French." Er kann schwimmen. = "He knows how to swim." or "He can swim." Knowing How to Say Know The Three German "Know" Verbs English Deutsch to know (someone) kennen to know (a fact) wissen to know (how) können Click on a verb to see its conjugation. Part Two - Sample Sentences/Exercises Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Flippo, Hyde. "How to Say 'Know' in German Using Kennen, Wissen and Können." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/how-to-say-know-in-german-4077759. Flippo, Hyde. (2021, February 16). How to Say 'Know' in German Using Kennen, Wissen and Können. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-say-know-in-german-4077759 Flippo, Hyde. "How to Say 'Know' in German Using Kennen, Wissen and Können." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-say-know-in-german-4077759 (accessed October 22, 2021). copy citation German Verbs - Kennen - to Know What You Need to Know About German Modal Verbs How to Use "Dürfen" in German Conjugating the German Verb Wissen, Meaning "to Know" German Verbs - wissen (to know) conjugated in all its tenses Doch ...and Other Tricky German Words There Are Lots of Ways to Say "I Love You" in German German Regular Verbs: Past Tenses Which Countries Speak German? Transitive and Intransitive Verbs in German How to Conjugate the German Verb "Laufen" (to Run, Walk) How to Conjugate "Geben" (to Give) in German Learn How to Use In, An or Auf Correctly in German Translating the Terms for "People" in German Denglish: When Languages Collide Learning German "Give and Take" - "Geben, Nehmen"