Saber Conjugation: Imperfect, Future & Past Participle

Instructor: Lindie Alvey Kusky

Lindie is an educator and translator who speaks five languages. She has a Master's in Spanish Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition and a CELTA Cambridge credential.

In this lesson we will learn how to use the verb ''saber'' (to know) in the imperfect past tense and future tense. You will also learn how to form its past participle.

Loving To Know

''People who think they know everything are extremely annoying to those of us who actually do.'' -Anonymous

If you were to place a rubber band on your wrist and snap it every time you used the word 'know,' or any time you looked up information on the internet, you would soon have a nice little bruise.

We humans are always in the process of gathering information. We can't help it. Whether we need the address of a new restaurant we found on Yelp or we wonder why our significant other isn't answering our texts, it's not enough for us to guess. We want to KNOW.

The Spanish verb for 'to know' is saber (sah-BAYR). This is the verb we use when we talk about knowing facts. Like many words, there isn't an exact correlation between the English word and the Spanish word. Our word 'to know' is translated into Spanish by two verbs, saber and conocer. We won't bog ourselves down with the differences between the two.

For our purposes, it is enough to say that saber is used when we are talking about facts, things we know thoroughly, and knowing how to do things. We do not use saber for saying we know people or places, or to say we are familiar with something.

Saber in the Imperfect Tense

When we talk about things we knew in the past, or things we used to know, we use saber in the imperfect tense. It is a regular verb in the imperfect:

VERB: saber (sah-BAYR) Imperfect tense

Pronoun Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
Yo sabía sah-BEE-ah I knew
Tu sabías sah-BEE-ahs You knew
Él, ella, usted sabía sah-BEE-ah He, she, you knew
sabíamos sah-BEE-ah-mohs We knew
sabíais sah-BEE-iys You (plural) knew
Ellos, ellas, ustedes sabían sah-BEE-ahn They knew

Sabias que

Example Conversation

Let's see some examples of how it is used. Santiago and José Luis are having a conversation:

Santiago: ¿Sabías que Elena va al baile con Pedro? (Did you know that Elena is going to the dance with Pedro?)

José: ¿De veras? No lo sabía. (Really? I didn't know)

Santiago: Sí. Pedro sabía que Elena había roto con Carlos. (Yes, Pedro knew that Elena had broken up with Carlos). Y Pedro nunca desaprovecha sus oportunidades (And Pedro never wastes his opportunities).

José: ¡Pues eso todos lo sabíamos! (Well, we all knew that!)

To be continued…

Saber in the Future Tense

We use saber in the future tense to talk about things that will be known. Saber in the future tense can also mean 'to find out'.

In the future tense, saber is an irregular verb. The 'e' is removed from the infinitive and then the future endings are added.

VERB: saber (sah-BAYR) Future tense

Pronoun Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
Yo sabré sah-BRAY I will know
Tu sabrás sah-BRAHS You will know
Él, ella, usted sabrá sah-BRAH He, she, you will know
sabremos sah-BRAY-mohs We will know
sabréis sah-BRAYS You (plural) will know
Ellos, ellas, ustedes sabrán sah-BRAHN They will know

Example Conversation

And now back to Santiago and José:

Santiago: Y tú, ¿a quién vas a invitar al baile? (And you, who are you asking to the dance?)

José: Ya sabrás. (You'll find out)

Santiago: No sabes todavía, ¿cierto? (You don't know yet, do you?)

José: Lo sabré muy pronto. (I'll know very soon). Me va a llamar. (She's going to call me)

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