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Weten vs. Kennen

What exactly is the difference? Can they be used interchangeably? If not, then when do you use which?

December 29, 2014



You can translate 'kennen' as 'to be familiar or acquainted with [person]/[object]/[...]'. 'Weten' is used for facts and things like that. 'Weten' and 'kennen' are not interchangeable.

  • Ik weet wie ze is, maar ik ken haar niet. - I know who she is (I know basic information. Her name e.g.), but I don't know her. (So, you are not friends with her, maybe even never talked to her).

Sometimes both 'kennen' and 'weten' fit. The meaning of the sentence is different then!

  • Ik weet het niet. - I don't know it, never heard of it, never seen it, etc. (Also used when you are not sure about something. - 'Let's do this!' 'Hmm, I don't know...')
  • Ik ken het niet. - I am not familiar with it, but have seen it before or heard about it.

Grammatically, the main difference between 'kennen' and 'weten' is that 'kennen' needs an object, and 'weten' is followed by a clause that begins with 'dat' (that), 'wie' (who), '❤❤❤' (how), etc.

I see you're learning French as well. It's the same as 'connaître' (=kennen) and 'savoir' (=weten).


Interestingly, this distinction exists in Spanish as well, in the form of "saber" and "conocer" ("to know" and "to be familiar with", respectively).


Great explanation, take a lingot!


Weten is know some sort of knowledge, kennen is to know someone/a word/a movie/a TV show/ etc

  • Ik weet dat mijn naam is lelijk / Ik weet het antwoord
  • Ik ken dit liedje niet / Ik ken de man

Try these ones...

  • Ik _ jouw naam niet
  • Ik _ dat je bent een vrouw
  • Ik _ dit schildpad


Just some small corrections. Don't want to be mean or anything!

It is:

Ik weet dat mijn naam lelijk is OR ik weet het, mijn naam is lelijk.

Difference in English would be I know my name is ugly OR I KNOW (pauze) my name is ugly.

ik weet dat je een vrouw bent

ik weet dat dit een schildpad is OR ik ken deze schildpad.

First one means I know this is a turtle, as in I recognize the species. Second is I know this turtle as in I know this particular animal it belongs to my friend.

You use the weten en kennen right but the construction of the sentences is off if you know what I mean.

Hope it helps!





By any chance?


If I understand correctly, kennen has to do with acquaintance. Maybe a rule of thumb is that if the verb can be translated to "be acquainted with", then it's kennen. Otherwise, it's weten.

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