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“Saber” Conjugation: A Guide to Using the Verb “Saber” in Spanish

Knowledge is power, which is why the verb saber, meaning “to know”, is so important. This verb can mean to know information or facts, to know how to perform a skill, or to have news about someone. Here, we’ll cover the saber conjugation at different levels so you never make a mistake with this tricky little verb. We’ll provide some example sentences and also give you some extra facts and phrases.

(Saber also has a different meaning relating to how something tastes, but the meaning referring to knowledge is the one most commonly used and is the one we’ll be focusing on in this article.)

Are you ready to satisfy your thirst for knowledge? Let’s go!

What type of verb is saber?

The verb saber is irregular as it does not follow the usual pattern for Spanish verbs ending in “-er”. Moreover, saber (meaning “to know”) can be a transitive or an intransitive verb depending on the context. This means it might require an object to function or not. Let’s take a closer look.

Saber as a transitive verb

  • Ella sabe karate. (She knows karate).

When you are talking about knowing a certain skill or having knowledge of something, the verb saber is transitive and requires an object. In this case, the object would be “karate”.

Saber as an intransitive verb

  • No sé cómo supieron de él. (I have no idea how they knew about him.)

As an intransitive verb, saber needs a complement including the preposition “de”. In this case, “de él”. The meaning here is knowing or having news about someone.

Verbals of saber: infinitive, gerund and participle

Now that we’ve covered the basics, we’ll get you started on the saber conjugation by taking a look at its verbals. These are the infinitive, the gerund and the participle. Verbals can be tricky because they actually function as nouns, adjectives and adverbs instead of actual verbs. But don’t fret! They’re not as complex as they may sound.

Infinitive

Saber (to know)

  • Quiero saber qué está pasando. (I want to know what’s going on.)

As you can see, the infinitive (just like the other verbals) goes hand in hand with another verb, in this case, querer. You can take a look at the conjugation of the verb querer in our querer conjugation guide.

Gerund

Sabiendo (knowing)

  • ¿Igual lo hiciste, sabiendo que estaba mal? (You did it anyway, even though you knew it was wrong?)

Participle

Sabido (known)

  • De haberlo sabido, preparaba una comida vegetariana. (If I had known, I would’ve cooked a vegetarian dish.)

Saber conjugation for all levels

Saber conjugation for beginners

Spanish has 10 tenses in the indicative mood. Presente (present), pretérito imperfecto (imperfect preterite, a form of the past tense), pretérito perfecto (perfect preterite, another form of the past tense) and futuro (future) are the most common and simplest forms of the saber conjugation, so we’ll start with those.

Subject Present Imperfect Preterite Perfect Preterite Future
Yo (I) sabía supe sabré
Tu (You)
Vos (Latin America)
sabes

sabés

sabías supiste sabrás
Usted (You, formal)

El/Ella (He/She/It)

sabe sabía supo sabrá
Nosotros (We) sabemos sabíamos supimos sabremos
Vosotros (You, plural)
Ustedes (Latin America)
sabéis

saben

sabíais

sabían

supisteis

supieron

sabréis

sabrán

Ellos (Them) saben sabían supieron sabrán

Saber conjugation examples for beginners

  • Present: ¿Sabes cómo se llaman? (Do you know their names?)
  • Imperfect preterite: Ella sabía que se metería en problemas. (She knew she would get in trouble.)
  • Perfect preterite: Siempre supieron quién lo había hecho. (They always knew who did it.)
  • Future: Cuando seas grande, sabrás lo que quiero decir. (When you’re older, you’ll know what I mean.)

Saber conjugation for intermediate students

Excellent! You’ve made it to the next level! Now we’ll move on to the compound tenses of the saber conjugation in the indicative mood.

The trick for these tenses is to master the haber conjugation. Once you’ve done that, it becomes a lot easier as the only form of saber that comes into play here is the participle “sabido”. Compound tenses in the indicative mood in Spanish are made up of the verb haber + the past participle of the verb in question.

You can take a look at the table below for the pretérito perfecto (preterite perfect), pluscuamperfecto (pluperfect) and futuro compuesto (future perfect) tenses, but you will also find our article on the haber conjugation useful.

Subject Preterite Perfect Pluperfect Future Perfect
Yo (I) he sabido había sabido habré sabido
Tu/Vos (You) has sabido habías sabido habrás sabido
Usted (You, formal)

El/Ella (He/She/It)

ha sabido había sabido habrá sabido
Nosotros (We) hemos sabido habíamos sabido habremos sabido
Vosotros (You, plural)

Ustedes (Latin America)

habéis sabido

han sabido

habíais sabido

habían sabido

habréis sabido

habrán sabido

Ellos (Them) han sabido habían sabido habrán sabido

Compound forms are not used quite that often in spoken Spanish but, nonetheless, it’s important to know they exist and be able to recognize their uses as you will come across them often in literature.

Saber conjugation examples for intermediate level

  • Preterite perfect: ¿Siempre has sabido la verdad? (Have you always known the truth?)
  • Pluperfect: Habían sabido todo desde el principio. (They had known everything from the start.)
  • Future perfect: ¿Habrán sabido que éramos nosotros? (Will they have known it was us?)

Saber conjugation for advanced learners

Now, are you ready for a real challenge? Well, the subjunctive mood will definitely give you one. This Spanish mood is quite abstract and is used to express doubts, emotions, desires, and the unknown. Here, we’ll look at its presente (present), imperfecto (imperfect) and futuro (future) tenses.

Subject Present Imperfect Future
Yo (I) sepa supiera o supiese supiere
Tu (You)

Vos (Latin America)

sepas supieras o supieses supieres
Usted (You, formal)

El/Ella (He/She/It)

sepa supiera o supiese supiere
Nosotros (We) sepamos supiéramos o supiésemos supiéremos
Vosotros (You, plural)

Ustedes (Latin America)

sepáis

sepan

supierais o supieseis

supieran o supiesen

supiereis

supieren

Ellos (Them) sepan supieran o supiesen supieren

Saber conjugation examples for advanced learners

  • Present: Espero que sepan que no pueden fumar aquí. (I hope they know they’re not allowed to smoke here.)
  • Imperfect: Si supieras lo que yo sé… (If you knew what I know…)
  • Future: Un pedido para los que supieren sobre el crimen (A request for those who knew about the crime.)

The subjunctive future is particularly tricky because it has no direct English translation, and it might be referring to another future or even the present. However, it is not often used in speech nowadays. Just like the compound forms of the indicative mood, you are more likely to find it in literature and also in legal contexts.

Extra saber conjugation: conditional tenses

For those of you who are still hungry for knowledge, here are some extra tenses of the saber conjugation. We have the condicional simple (simple conditional) and the condicional compuesto (conditional perfect).

Subject Simple Conditional Conditional Perfect
Yo (I) sabría habría sabido
Tu (You)

Vos (Latin America)

sabrías habrías sabido
Usted (You, formal)

El/Ella (He/She/It)

sabría habría sabido
Nosotros (We) sabríamos habríamos sabido
Vosotros (You, plural)

Ustedes (Latin America)

sabríais habríais sabido
Ellos (Them) sabrían habrían sabido

Saber conjugation examples in the conditional tenses

  • Simple conditional: ¿Sabrían llegar? (Would they know how to get here?)
  • Conditional perfect: Si hubiesen venido, no habrían sabido comportarse. (If they had come, they wouldn’t have known how to behave themselves.)

For a more detailed overview of the conditional tenses, check out our Spanish conditional tense guide.

Did you know?

We’ve taken a quite in-depth look at the conjugation of the verb saber in Spanish. Now, let’s take a look at some facts and tips that might come in handy when coming across saber or similar forms.

vs. se

The tilde is quite important in Spanish and a lot of times it is used so we can tell homonyms (meaning words that are pronounced or written the same but have different meanings) apart. This is the case with “sé” and “se”.

While “sé” (I know) is the first-person conjugation of the verb saber in the present tense, “se” is a reflexive pronoun. A reflexive pronoun accompanies a reflexive verb and matches the subject of the verb. You can learn more about it in our article on Spanish reflexive verbs.

Saber as a noun

Saber is easily translated into the verb “to know” in English. However, it can also work as a noun. Depending on the context, it can be translated as wisdom or knowledge. However, the word knowledge is more accurately translated into conocimiento in Spanish, which stems from the verb conocer we’ll look into below.

Saber vs. conocer

These two verbs are close in meaning and can be easily confused. When in doubt, remember that saber is used for skills or facts (e.g.: tejer. [I know how to knit]). or ¿Saben el nombre del libro? [Do you know the name of the book?]), while conocer is about being familiar with people, places or things (e.g.: La conozco. [I know her.] or Conozco esa película. [I know that film.])

If you want to know more about when to use each one, you can take a look at this fun video:

Saber (“to know”) vs. saber (“to taste”)

As we’ve mentioned before, saber as a verb has two meanings. The conjugation for both is exactly the same, but saber meaning how something tastes is always intransitive. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples:

  • Sabe a pescado. (It tastes like fish.)
  • Sabía terrible. (It tasted awful.)
  • Sabrá mejor si le agregas sal. (It’ll taste better if you add salt.)

Expressions with saber

Finally, let’s take a look at some set phrases and expressions with the verb saber. These are my four favorite ones!

¡Qué sé yo!

This phrase roughly translates into “How should I know?” and is used in similar contexts as the English version.

¡De haberlo sabido!

Who hasn’t gotten upset about missing information that might have been useful to have beforehand? Well, this phrase would be the equivalent to “If I had known!”

No sabe, no contesta.

This phrase is used when someone does not reply when asked a question or expresses no opinion on a certain matter. There is no real equivalent in English, but it literally translates to “They don’t know, they don’t answer”.

Tiene un no sé qué.

You know when you like someone but aren’t really sure why? You might find this form familiar from the French “je ne sais quoi”, which in English means a person has a certain something you can’t quite put your finger on.

We hope this guide has covered all the questions you may have about the saber conjugation. If you want to know more about the conjugations we’ve gone over in this article, be sure to look into our overview of Spanish tenses.

Challenge yourself with Clozemaster

Learning the saber 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 saber.

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