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Difference between znam and wiem?

Both translate to the same thing. What's the difference?

February 26, 2016



Since you are learning German, the best explanation of the difference would be:

  • znać = kennen

  • wiedzieć = wissen

English doesn't really distinguish knowing something from having knowledge about something, so to English language both translate to the same thing. ;-)


wiedzieć = weten


"Znać" can refer to people, song, movies you know, while "wiedzieć" is more about the knowledge. Examples: Znam ją! - I know her! Znam tę piosenkę. - I know this song. Wiem, że nie przyjdziecie. - I know that you won't come. Oni wiedzą o nas! - They know about us!


Dziękuję bardzo. Teraz rozumiem.


Who this be like saber and conocer in Spanish?


Sí, "saber" would be "wiedzieć" and "conocer" would be "znać".


Loved the amount of languages used on your sentence lol

But it helped me a lot, we have the same in Portuguese ;)


The same applies to Portuguese: saber e conhecer.


The examples provided by my preceedesors are useful, but the distinction between "znać" and "wiedzieć" is not purely about the topic, but can also be influenced by the way it's expressed. Let's see the way we know a certain method:

"Znam język angielski" – "I know English" (much more common)
"Wiem, jak mówić po angielsku" – "I know how to speak English" (mostly theoretical, but still valid)

Forgive me if I am about to write something stupid, as I'm writing this without any research into the topic, but I feel that when you can (in Polish) immediately follow the verb for "know" with its object, you use "znać". If it would require a preposition or something, then use "wiedzieć".


"znam" - I know [someone, something] "wiem" - I know [it, about something] Znam go. - I know him. Znam ten film. - I know this film/movie. Wiem. - I know it. Wiem o tym. - I know about it. I hope I helped you ;)


As a native speaker (I am Lithuanian) sometimes I'm stuck between them too and I use "znam" in context as I would use it when speaking Russian. But I feel the difference, like, znam you use more when you "know" someone (a person), and wiem when you "know" something (any fact, etc.).


What would the Russian analogy to wiedzieć be?


There is no nowadays. Both "znać" and "wiedzieć" are translated as "знать". There used to be a noun "ведать" though.


I don't know Russian anywhere close as well as you, but from what I observed, in Russian there is no specific equivalent of wiedzieć. Знать is likely to be translated as wiedzieć when it's next to some other words, like знать как, знать что.

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