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Everything You Should Know About the French “Connaître” Conjugation

The French language has two different verbs that mean “to know”. It’s important to know the difference between the savoir and connaître conjugation before you try to use them. Savoir is primarily used for knowledge and facts, while connaître is mainly used to talk about knowing people and places.

Connaître vs. Savoir

Let’s delve right in with the differences between these two verbs that both translate to “know” in English, and take a look at some savoir vs. connaître examples.

Savoir is about knowing something because you have learned or been informed of it. It is often used to talk about facts, abilities and received information. Savoir should be followed by a subordinate proposition (que, qui, ou, comment, si, etc.) or an infinitive verb. It is never followed by a noun.

  • Je ne suis pas fort en maths mais je sais que deux fois deux égale quatre – I’m not good at math but I know that two times two equals four

On the other hand, connaître is used for expressing the existence of something. If you recognize a place from previously going there or can identify someone because you’ve met them before, then you would use connaître. You don’t have to know them well, because it can also be translated as “to be familiar with” something or someone. It can be used to talk about knowledge you’ve acquired too. Finally, The verb connaître can also be used to show that somebody or something has experienced something. It is always followed by a noun.

Acquired knowledge:

  • Il connaît tous les verbes irréguliers en Anglais – He knows all the irregular verbs in English

People or places:

  • Je connais tout le monde dans ce village – I know everyone in this village

To experience something:

  • Son premier film a connu un énorme succès – His first film was a huge success (Literally: His first film knew a huge success)

For more savoir and connaître practice, check out our blog post about the savoir conjugation.

Connaître Conjugation Present Tense (le présent)

Je connais

I know

Tu connais

You know

Il/elle connaît

He/she/it knows

Nous connaissons

We know

Vous connaissez

You know (formal/plural)

Ils/elles connaissent

They know

  • Je connais cet endroit, j’ai du venir quand j’étais jeune – I know this place, I must’ve come here when I was young
  • Connaissez-vous Madame Pomfrey ? – Do you know Mrs. Pomfrey?
  • Elle connaît la réponse, on l’a revisé hier soir – She knows the answer, we revised it last night

Connaître Conjugaison Imparfait (Imperfect Tense)

The French language has two different past tenses that are both commonly used when speaking. The imparfait is used primarily to talk about an action that started in the past but is happening, past actions or even habits. The passé composé, on the other hand, is used for actions that both started and finished in the past. To complicate matters, when using the past tense and the verb connaître, you can employ either tense almost interchangeably.

Je connaissais

I knew

Tu connaissais

You knew

Il/elle connaissait

He/she/it knew

Nous connaissions

We knew

Vous connaissiez

You knew (formal/plural)

Ils/elles connaissaient

They knew

  • Je la connaissais quand elle était petite – I knew her when she was little
  • Ils ne connaissaient pas leur professeur avant le premier jour d’école – They didn’t know their teacher until the first day of school
  • Nous connaissions Le Petit Bistro quand nous habitions à Paris – We knew Le Petit Bistro when we lived in Paris

Connaître Conjugaison Passé Composé

J’ai connu

I knew

Tu as connu

You knew

Il/elle a connu

He/she/it knew

Nous avons connu

We knew

Vous avez connu

You knew (formal/plural)

Ils/elles ont connu

They knew

The passé composé takes the auxiliary “avoir” and pairs it with the connaître past participle, which is “connu”.

  • Elle m’a connu quand j’étais bébé mais je ne m’en souviens pas – She knew me when I was a baby, but I don’t remember
  • Ils ont connu la souffrance pendant la guerre – They experienced suffering during the war
  • Il a connu ce problème déjà – He has already experienced this problem

Anybody who is familiar with the French passé composé will know that verbs that use the auxiliary “être” must agree with the subject, while verbs that take the auxiliary “avoir” remain unchanged. That said, the complicated “complément d’objet direct” (often called the “COD”) can be used with verbs that pair with “avoir” to confuse matters!

The COD is a noun directly linked to a verb, without a preposition. It responds to the questions qui/quoi (who/what).

The COD usually comes after the verb, but sometimes it’s placed before the verb, and in this case the verb must agree with the COD, if it’s feminine, plural or both feminine and plural.

  • Il a connu ta femme – Il l’a connue
    He knew your wife – He knew her
  • J’ai connu cette ville pendant mon adolescence – Je l’ai connue pendant mon adolescence
    I knew this town when I was a teenager – I knew it when I was a teenager
  • Est-ce que tu as connu tes voisins avant qu’ils déménagent ? – Est-ce que tu les as connus avant qu’ils déménagent ?
    Did you know your neighbors before they moved house? – Did you know them before they moved house?

Connaître Conjugation Simple Future (le futur simple)

Je connaîtrai

I will know

Tu connaîtras

You will know

Il/elle connaîtra

He/she/it will know

Nous connaîtrons

We will know

Vous connaîtrez

You will know (formal/plural)

Ils/elles connaîtront

They will know

  • Après le mariage de sa cousine je connaîtrai toute sa famille – After his cousin’s wedding, I’ll know all his family
  • Nous connaîtrons la réponse bientôt – We’ll know the answer soon
  • Ils connaîtront la pauvreté s’ils n’arrivent pas à trouver du travail – They’ll experience poverty if they don’t manage to find work

Connaître Conjugation Near Future (le futur proche)

Je vais connaître

I’m going to know

Tu vas connaître

You’re going to know

Il/elle va connaître

He/she/it is going to know

Nous allons connaître

We’re going to know

Vous allez connaître

You’re going to know (formal/plural)

Ils/elles vont connaître

They’re going to know

  • Tu vas connaître tous tes collègues après la première semaine – You’re going to know all your colleagues after the first week
  • Elle va connaître les conjugaisons grâce aux cours de français – She’s going to know the conjugations thanks to the French classes
  • Vous allez connaître l’amour inconditionnel quand votre bébé est né – You’re going to experience unconditional love when your baby is born

Connaître French Pluperfect (le plus-que-parfait)

J’avais connu

I had known

Tu avais connu

You had known

Il/elle avait connu

He/she/it had known

Nous avions connu

We had known

Vous aviez connu

You had known (formal/plural)

Ils/elles avaient connu

They had known

The pluperfect tense in French is just like the English past perfect tense. It is mostly used for talking about things that took place before another event in the past.

  • Tu l’avais connu pendant longtemps avant sa mort – You had known her for a long time before her death
  • Si l’entreprise avait connu autant de réussites avec moi aux commandes, je ne me serais pas fait viré – If the company had had this much success with me at the helm, I wouldn’t have been fired
  • Elles avaient connu la richesse, puis elles ont connu la misère – They had experienced wealth, then they experienced destitution

Se connaître

This reflexive version of the verb, made up of a reflexive pronoun and the verb connaître, is used to express a relationship between two people, to show that they both know each other.

  • On se connaît depuis l’école primaire – We’ve known each other since elementary school
  • Vous vous connaissez déjà ? – Do you know each other already?

You can also use this same verb to talk about knowing yourself:

  • Comment véritablement se connaître soi-même ? – How to truly know yourself?
  • Je me connais, donc je connais mes limites – I know myself, therefore I know my limits

Expressions with Connaître

If you really want to show off your skills with this new verb, then you can try incorporating a few expressions with connaître into your speech.

Here are a few to help you sound like a native speaker:

S’y connaître – To be knowledgeable about

Literal translation: To know about it

  • Je m’y connais en informatique, je suis développeur web – I know about computing, I’m a web developer

Connaître (quelque chose) sur les bouts des doigts – To know (something) inside out/like the back of your hand

Literal translation: To know on the end of your fingertips

  • Il est horloger, il connaît les horloges sur les bouts des doigts – He’s a horologist, he knows clocks like the back of his hand

Connaître comme sa poche – To know inside out/like the back of your hand (often used to talk about a place)

Literal translation: To know like one’s pocket

  • Je connais cette maison comme ma poche, j’étais né ici – I know this house inside out, I was born here

Se faire connaître – To make a name for yourself

Literal translation: To make oneself to know

  • Il s’est fait connaître grâce à son activisme contre la cruauté envers les animals – He made a name for himself thanks to his activism against cruelty to animals

Faire connaître – To make (someone or something) known

Literal translation: To make to know

  • Nous allons faire connaître le film en diffusant la bande-annonce en ligne – We’re going to make the film known by sharing the trailer online

Faire connaître – To introduce someone, or introduce someone to something

Literal translation: To make to know

  • Elle a fait connaître l’opéra à sa sœur – She introduced her sister to the opera

Connaître la musique – To know the score (to be familiar with a procedure)

Literal translation: To know the music

  • C’est la deuxième fois que je suis là cette année, je connais la musique – It’s my second time here this year, I know the score

En connaître un rayon – To know your stuff/to know a thing or two about something

Literal translation: To know a department about it

  • Tu travailles dans cette usine depuis 10 ans, tu dois en connaître un rayon – You’ve worked in this factory for 10 years, you must know a thing or two about it

Ne connaître ni des lèvres ni des dents – To not know somebody from Adam

Literal translation: To know neither from lips nor teeth

  • Je ne vais pas vous faire rentrer, je ne vous connais ni des lèvres ni des dents – I’m not going to let you in, I don’t know you from Adam

Challenge yourself with Clozemaster

Learning the connaître conjugation might seem daunting at first, but don’t worry, it comes naturally with practice.

Test your skills and see what you’ve learned from this article by playing a selection of sentences with forms of the verb connaître.

Sign up here to save your progress and start getting fluent with thousands of French sentences at Clozemaster.

Clozemaster has been designed to help you learn the language in context by filling in the gaps in authentic sentences. With features such as Grammar Challenges, Cloze-Listening, and Cloze-Reading, the app will let you emphasize all the competencies necessary to become fluent in French.

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1 thought on “Everything You Should Know About the French “Connaître” Conjugation”

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