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Savoir Conjugation

Instructor: Marcy Farrell
'Savoir' meaning 'to know' is a common French verb. In this lesson, you'll learn to conjugate this verb. Discover how to use this verb to express ideas. Learn some common expressions with 'savoir.'

Conjugation

Knowing how to say you know something or telling a friend, 'I don't know' is pretty important in conversation, even French conversations. But to do that, first you have to learn how to conjugate the verb savoir (pronounced: sah-vwahr), to know.

Subject Pronoun Savoir Conjugation Pronunciation English Meaning
je (I) sais (say) I know
tu (you) sais (say) you know (singular)
il/elle (he/she) sait (say) he/she knows
nous (we) savons (sah-vahn) we know
vous (you) savez (sah-vay) you know (plural)
ils/elles (they) savent (sahv) they know

Now that we've got that down, let's look at the different ways that savoir is used in conversations.

To Know How

To express that someone knows how to do something, we use a form of the verb savoir plus a second verb. Let's look at some examples using savoir plus the verb nager (pronounced: nah-zhay) to swim:

Imagine that your French friend, Ariane, has come to visit. You want to go swimming, so you ask her, 'Tu sais nager?' meaning, 'Do you know how to swim?'. She would answer 'Je sais nager' meaning 'I know how to swim.' Then, your friends Frank and Elizabeth arrive. You ask them 'Vous savez nager?' meaning 'Do you (guys) know how to swim?' They answer, 'Nous savons nager' meaning 'We know how to swim.'

Notice how the sentences use different forms of the verb savoir, but the word nager never changes.

Let's look at some more examples:

  • Je sais conduire (pronounced: zhuh say kon-dweer), meaning 'I know how to drive.'
  • Elle sait conduire (pronounced: el say kon-dweer), meaning 'She knows how to drive.'
  • Il sait danser (pronounced: eel say dahn-say), meaning 'He knows how to dance.'
  • Ils savent danser (pronounced: eel sahv dahn-say), meaning 'They know how to dance.'

image of couple dancing

Expressions with Savoir

  • To say 'I have no idea' you can use the expression Je n'en sais rien (pronounced: zhuh nehn say ree-ehn).
  • The French phrase un certain je ne sais quoi (pronounced: uhn ser-tan zhuh nuh say kwah), means 'a certain something.' It is used to express the idea that a person or thing has a special, unusual quality. It's generally a positive phrase.
  • The French also pride themselves on having savoir vivre (pronounced: sah-vwahr veev-ruh). This phrase literally means 'to know how to live.' The French use it to mean knowing how to enjoy life - for example by eating well or taking time to relax.

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