The verb SAVOIR usually means to know and it has irregular forms but it is at least conjugated with avoir in its past tense forms so that makes it easier to learn. There are, though, two verbs which mean ‘to know’, the other one being connaître. Don’t confuse them: SAVOIR means to know facts, how to do something, and being aware of something, whereas connaître means to know a person (or a place). If you’ve studied Spanish, the rule is similar to ‘saber’ and ‘conocer’.
In this article, you’re going to learn about some of the more common uses of VOIR, and there is a short quiz at the end to help you remember some of the key parts and uses of the verb. The bonus MP3 audio files will help you develop your listening and pronunciation skills, and the verb drills will help you memorise the conjugation tables more easily.
The audio is included in the fully-packed French Learning Package which you can access for free when you sign up to join our mailing list.
Uses of SAVOIR
SAVOIR is another irregular verb, meaning it doesn’t follow a recognised pattern when you conjugate it. Make sure you look out for the irregularities in the different tenses and moods but see if you can start to see similarities in the structure of different tenses.
SAVOIR is used in three particular ways.
- 1SAVOIR means ‘to know’ in the sense of something you have learned or found out. Example: Je sais danser (I know how to dance) and Il sait mon adresse (He knows my address).
- 2It can be used in the passé composé to express that you have found something out. Example: Ah oui, je l’ai su hier (Oh yes, I found that out yesterday).
- 3In the conditionnel, it is used to express a sense of ‘could’ or ‘would’ and being able to do something. Example: Je saurais cacher mon colère. (I would be able to hide my anger).
Conjugation of SAVOIR
Once again, this is an irregular verb and doesn’t follow any of the regular patterns. Keep repeating the verb and listening to the audio, though, and you’ll learn it in no time, but remember that often, different spellings can sound the same in French, so it’s important you secure the spellings as well as the sounds of the words.
Let’s review the conjugation of SAVOIR in the indicative mood.
How to conjugate SAVOIR in the present tense (Présent)
In English, there are two present tenses - the Present Simple and the Present Continuous. In French, there’s only one tense - Le Présent. French is easy, right?
This particular verb is rarely found in the present continuous - ‘I am knowing’ just doesn’t sound right, does it? - so you only have the present simple meaning in the table below.
|Je sais||I know|
|Tu sais||You know|
|Il / elle sait||He / she knows|
|Nous savons||We know|
|Vous savez||You know|
|Ils / elles savent||They know|
How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Imparfait
The imperfect is used to create a sense of something that continued happening in the past. In English we would say ‘I was doing something’ or that ‘I used to do it’.
However, with SAVOIR, that sense of continuation is understood without the word ‘was’ being used.Before deciding which tense to use (imparfait or passé composé), consider the frequency and how far back in time the events or facts happened.
|Je savais||I knew|
|Tu savais||You knew|
|Il / elle savait||He / she knew|
|Nous savions||We knew|
|Vous saviez||You knew|
|Ils / elles savaient||They knew|
How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Futur
|Je saurai||I will know|
|Tu sauras||You will know|
|Il / elle saura||He / she will know|
|Nous saurons||We will know|
|Vous saurez||You will know|
|Ils / elles sauront||They will know|
How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Passé Composé
|J’ai su||I knew|
|Tu as su||You knew|
|Il / elle a su||He / she knew|
|Nous avons su||We knew|
|Vous avez su||You knew|
|Ils / elles ont su||They knew|
Think carefully, when using this tense or the imparfait, about whether the ‘knowing’ continued in the past or was short-lived, so that you know which tense to use.
How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Passé Simple
|Je sus||I knew|
|Tu sus||You knew|
|Il / elle sut||He / she knew|
|Nous sûmes||We knew|
|Vous sûtes||You knew|
|Ils / elles surent||They knew|
How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Plus-que-Parfait
|J’avais su||I had known|
|Tu avais su||You had know|
|Il / elle avait su||He / she had known|
|Nous avions su||We had known|
|Vous aviez su||You had known|
|Ils / elles avaient su||They had known|
How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Passé Antérieur
|J’eus su||I had known|
|Tu eus su||You had known|
|Il / elle eut su||He / she had known|
|Nous eûmes su||We had known|
|Vous eûtes su||You had known|
|Ils / elles eurent su||They had known|
How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Futur Antérieur
|J’aurai su||I will have known|
|Tu auras su||You will have known|
|Il / elle aura su||He / she will have known|
|Nous aurons su||We will have known|
|Vous aurez su||You will have known|
|Ils auront su||They will have known|
How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Subjunctive mood (Subjonctif)
|que je sache||that I know|
|que tu saches||that you know|
|qu’il / elle sache||that he / she know|
|que nous sachions||that we know|
|que vous sachiez||that you know|
|qu’ils / elles sachent||that they know|
|que je susse||that I was knowing|
|que tu susses||that you were knowing|
|qu’il / elle sût||that he / she was knowing|
|que nous sussions||that we were knowing|
|que vous sussiez||that you were knowing|
|qu’ils / elles sussent||that they were knowing|
|que j’aie su||that I knew|
|que tu aies su||that you knew|
|qu’il / elle ait su||that he / she knew|
|que nous ayons su||that we knew|
|que vous ayez su||that you knew|
|qu’ils / elles aient su||that they knew|
|que j’eusse su||that I had known|
|que tu eusses su||that you had known|
|qu’il / elle eût su||that he / she had known|
|que nous eussions su||that we had known|
|que vous eussiez su||that you had known|
|qu’ils / elles eussent su||that they had known|
How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Conditional Mood (Conditionnel)
|Je saurais||I would know|
|Tu saurais||You would know|
|Il / elle saurait||He / she would know|
|Nous saurions||We would know|
|Vous sauriez||You would know|
|Ils / elles sauraient||They would know|
|J’aurais su||I would have known|
|Tu aurais su||You would have known|
|Il / elle aurait su||He / she would have known|
|Nous aurions su||We would have known|
|Vous auriez su||You would have known|
|Ils / elles auraient su||They would have known|
|Passé Composé||ayant su|
How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Imperative Mood (Impératif)
|Passé||(tu) aie su
(nous) ayons su
(vous) ayez su
How to conjugate SAVOIR in the Infinitive Mood (Infinitif)
Quick Exercise - fill in the blanks
1. Il _____ conduire.
ANSWER: Il sait conduire.
2. Elles _______ qu’elles on tort.
ANSWER: Elles savent qu’elles ont tort.
3. _______ - vous l’heure?.
ANSWER: Savez - vous l’heure?.
4. Je ne _________ t’aider.
ANSWER: Je ne saurais t’aider.
5. Elle est d’accord? A _______!
ANSWER: Elle est d’accord? A savoir!
6. Il m’a parlé sans le _________.
ANSWER: Il m’a parlé sans le savoir.
7. Sans doute, tu as le ______ - faire.
ANSWER: Sans doute, tu as le savoir - faire.
8. La cuisine française, tu en ______ quelque chose.
ANSWER: La cuisine française, tu en savais quelque chose.
9. Il faut que tu ______ la vérité.
ANSWER: Il faut que tu saches la vérité.
10. Je ______ que nous serions de bons amis.
ANSWER: Je savais que nous serions de bons amis.
SAVOIR is another useful but irregular verb to learn. It’s important that you know what it is you know so as not to mix it up with connaître. You might by now be starting to recognise the different patterns that the different tenses bring, and that usually only parts of each form will actually change. Understand the pattern and then think about how the verb you’re learning modifies what you know.
So how will you go about learning them? If you thought learning verbs meant learning by rote and chanting your way through them, you’re mistaken. You can easily and naturally get them set in your memory if you use the audio drills every day.