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Savoir vs Pouvoir, and Savoir vs Connaître

Hello, recently i have gotten confused on the usage of savoir. From what i know, savoir means to have knowledge of something. Savoir can either translated as can or know. Correct me if i'm wrong, but savoir can be translated to can, from french, when the word is used to show your ability to so something. While pouvoir can also be translated to the word can, it is usually used in french to ask or give someone permission. But savoir can also be translated to the word know, when it is used in french to show someone you expertise and ability to do something. With the counterpart for the "know savoir" being connaître, wich means know. But this know is used to show that you are familiar and knowing of something. My question is: are the two savoir interchangeable, and which meaning you intend is based on context? Or, while savoir does have these two meaning, native speakers use it with only one meaning, and rarely use the counterparts for the savoir, "can or know." Sorry if these is kinda confusing, if any one wants me to clear up on any parts they don't understand about my post, be sure to just ask me.

March 28, 2018



I am willing to be corrected, as I am just learning myself! It is my understanding that:
pouvoir = to be capable of, to be able to
savoir = to know a fact
connaitre = to be familiar with a place or a person


In that link, it's all in French. It has "Il n’est pas toujours facile de faire la différence entre les verbes pouvoir et savoir lorsqu’on parle d’une capacité à faire quelque chose. Les Francophones eux-mêmes les emploient différemment d’un pays ou d’une région à l’autre. En Belgique, par exemple, on emploie souvent savoir au lieu de pouvoir"

That means that the use of "savoir" and "pouvoir" depends on the region where French is spoken and that some places use "savoir" to mean "pouvoir".


"Je sais " = I know, in the sense of I have that information. "Je sais pourquoi" = I know why.

"Je connais" = I know, in the sense be familiar through experience. "Je connais cette ville" = I know this town. You will find lots on the internet for this difference, with some examples where it's a bit in between, but usually the difference is clear.

"Je peux" = I can, in the sense that it is possible to do. "Je peux venir" = I can come.

The one that surprises is "Je sais jouer au tennis" = I can play tennis, in the sense of I know how to play:

"Je peux jouer au tennis samedi, si tu veux" = I can play tennis on Saturday if you like. "Non, je ne connais pas le badminton, mais je sais jouer au tennis." = No, I don't know badminton, but I can play tennis.

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