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What kind of knowledge is a timetable?

How do you "know" a timetable? It is both facts and familiarity.

Is it savoir or connaître ?

Is it accurate to say that:

"Je sais à quelle heure le bus arrivera, parce que je connais les horaires (des bus)." ?

April 3, 2020



fr. native speaker  

"Je sais à quelle heure le bus arrivera, parce que je connais les horaires (des bus)

Your sentence is absolutely correct.


Thank you. My first instinct was that because it was a set of learned facts it should be savoir, but then I realised that did not "feel" right.

It makes me wonder why it is different to a set of learned, for example, historical facts, like the names and reigns of a particular nation's monarchs, which surely must be savoir.

fr. native speaker


Je connais bien l'histoire de France.
Je sais/connais beaucoup de choses sur l'histoire de France.
Je sais qui était le treizième roi de France. (actually, I don't ☺ )
Je connais les noms de tous les rois de France. (nope)


That's helpful, thanks.

But the second line is intriguing. Does that mean that there are instances where either verb could be used (ie both are applicable) or that one needs to know which verb to use?

[deactivated user]

    Think of savoir meaning to know how to [DO something] (the whole caboodle, though the something you DO is variable!), and it becomes obvious.

    You don't know how to when and you don't know how to the timetable, so savior can't be right in either case.

    Savoir is always followed by a verb (though it might be implicit in a shortened answer such as je sais)

    Connaitre is to know things, and requires a direct object.


    That can't be right:

    Je sais que 2 + 2 = 4; but I don't know how to 2 + 2 = 4.

    And I believe that: Je sais quand je suis né.

    You have been misinformed that savoir can only be followed by a verb.
    (Although I think that the obverse is true: that connaître cannot be followed by a verb.)


    Je sais quand je suis né.

    here you do have a conjugated verb after sais. It is suis.

    Je sais que 2 + 2 = 4

    You also have one here. (égale or font, although written symbolically)

    And in your original you have a proposition with a conjugated verb after sais (à quelle heure le bus arrivera) and a nominal group after connais (les horaires).

    There are a few exceptions to that generalization. (Things you memorize use savoir even though they may be nominal groups). But connatre > Nom; savoir > Verbe is a common trick used by French teachers to remind students when to use which verb, and it works most of the time, including in the original example you posted.


    No, in the first example sais is followed by quand, which is not a verb and in the second example it is followed by que, which is also not a verb.

    It is ridiculous to suggest that the rule should be based on whether or not a verb appears somewhere later in a sentence which might, in theory at least, go on for half a page!

    The rule is based on the premise that a large portion of savoir's usage is "knowing how to", which is savoir + infinitive. But it does not cover knowing facts and, if you omit that part, it becomes misleading.


    Ridicule if you want, but this is how it is commonly taught, and in fact it works exactly for your original example. You know what time the bus arrives because you know the schedule. In the first instance, the proposition contains the conjugated verb 'arrives' and in the second it contains the nominal group 'the schedule'. To be sure, the fact that you have subordinating conjunctions such as quand are sure signs that a verb will follow.

    As far as I know the only exceptions are things you know by heart because you memorize them (a poem, for example) or in certain literary styles (Je sais les douleurs de ton âme)



    • C'est un fait, qui tout le monde sait.

    I see no verb.

    • C'est la vérité, c'est bien connu.
      (or should that be "… elle est bien connue." ?)

    I see no noun.

    • Je sais quand le bus arrivera.

    I do see a noun: le bus.


    Fair enough, but I think that the first two fall under Janet's description "though it might be implicit in a shortened answer"

    You're right that the last one has a noun, but then it is not possible to write a complete clause without a noun (or a pronoun) and a verb.

    Here, the key is not familiarity with a particular bus, but rather a knowledge of when it will arrive. The verb therefore plays a crucial role in the description.

    See also this blog:


    Or at least the summary beginning at about 6 minutes.

    Here's another blogger.


    Same description, more or less: Nom - connaître, Verbe - savoir.

    Bonjourdefrance describes it in this way:

    "Connaître - Suivi d'un nom, d'une personne ou d'un lieu."

    "Savoir - Employé seul, avec un infinitif, avec qui, que, quand, où, comment, pourquoi et pour noter un propos."

    There are probably many others, but these three (Nathalie Porte, PierreBabon, and the writers at bonjourdefrance) are ones that I trust. They all grew up in France and, more importantly, they have university degrees in teaching the French language.


    That last is a definition that I can relate to: no mention of verbs apart from the infinitive, which was never in dispute.

    I'm not sure that I fully understand what "pour noter un propos" amounts to in real life, but now I need to test it out against timetables and periodic tables and lists of kings!


    I am coming to the realisation that there is a subtlety here that I had not properly understood.

    I had alway assumed that, because a scientist must study and learn the Periodic Table: il saurait le tableau périodique.

    But now, I think that I realise that: Un scientifique connait le tableau périodique.

    I am now struggling to understand the difference between facts that are sus and facts that are connus.

    How can un fait, qui tout le monde sait become une vérité, connue de tous ?

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