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“Sapere” Conjugation in Italian: All You Need to Know, and a Bit More

The verb sapere in Italian can be translated in English as “to know”. Be careful, though! Sapere is not the only verb we can use to talk about knowledge in Italian… Indeed, we also have the verb conoscere, which can also be translated as “to know”. Do not worry though, after reading this article you will never make a mistake between these two again! And, just as importantly, you will be able to use the right sapere conjugation for every occasion!

  • Sai fare una torta vegana?
    Do you know how to make a vegan cake?

By the way, the word sapere can also be used as a noun to indicate “knowledge; learning”.

  • Il sapere rende liberi.
    Knowledge makes you free.

Are you ready?

Let’s look at how to use the Italian verb sapere correctly, how to conjugate it, and when to use it in context with examples and dialogues.

Sapere: What Kind of Verb is it?

Sapere is an irregular verb, which means it does not follow the regular pattern of other verbs that end in -ERE. It is usually employed to express factual knowledge: knowing the time, date or a name; being aware or informed of something, etc. Don’t worry, we will go into more details on when to use sapere below.

Sapere is also a transitive verb, which means it always takes an object. Unlike conoscere, however, which is always followed directly by “the thing” you know, sapere can also be followed by conjunctions or another clause, often using chi, come, dove, perché, etc.

  • Conosci Claudio?
    Do you know Claudio?
  • Sapevi che Claudio si è sposato?
    Did you know that Claudio got married?

According to some grammarians, sapere can be considered as another modal (or helping) verb, just like volere (to want or have the will to), potere (to know how to) and dovere (to have to). Modals behave differently to normal verbs: they are always followed by another verb, and they define and describe the “mode” of the action it describes.

In Italian, we call these verbi modali o servili and sapere can sometimes be used as one.

  • L’ho saputa salvare senza il tuo aiuto.
    I managed (knew how to) save her without your help.
  • Hai saputo capirlo da solo per fortuna.
    Fortunately, you were able to (knew how to) understand on your own.

Sapere: When to Use

Now that we’ve covered the basic characteristics of the verb sapere, let’s see in more details how and when to use it.


As we already mentioned, sapere is often used to express factual knowledge. You can use it to state or ask about information or with the meaning of “being aware”.

  • Sai per caso che ore sono?
    Do you know, by any chance, what time it is?
  • Lo sapevate che qui siamo già in Francia?
    Were you aware that we are already in France here?
  • Non so proprio cosa dirti.
    I really don’t know what to tell you.

Do not use sapere when you talk about a person, though! That is incorrect!


When followed by a verb, sapere takes the meaning of “knowing how to”, which means it describes an acquired ability.

  • Io so nuotare, e tu?
    I can (know how to) swim, and you?
  • Noi non sappiamo cucinare.
    We do not know how to cook.

Remember, sapere is also used to talk about knowing a language. Both with the verb parlare (to speak) and on its own.

  • Sai parlare francese?
    Can you speak French?
  • Loro sanno benissimo l’italiano.
    They know Italian very well.


Often when used in the passato prossimo (present perfect) the verb sapere takes on the meaning of “finding out”, being “informed of something” or “learning something”. In this case it can be followed by another clause starting with che, come, dove, quanto, quando, etc.

  • Hai saputo la grande notizia?
    Have you heard the big news?
  • Abbiamo saputo che ti sei sposato, congratulazioni!
    We heard you got married, congratulations!
  • Avete saputo dove si terrà il concerto?
    Have you found out where the concert will be?


Sapere is also often used in the impersonal form, which does not have a subject and stands for something like “it is known” or “everyone knows”. It can be used both in the present and past tense.

  • Si sa che lui è fatto così, non arrabbiarti.
    Everyone knows he’s that way, don’t be upset.
  • Si sapeva già che sarebbe finita così.
    It was already known that it would end up like that.
  • È saputo/risaputo che Gianluca è il miglior pizzaiolo della provincia.
    It is common knowledge that Gianluca is the best pizzaiolo of the province.

TIP: The word chissà, that you might have heard or studied, actually comes from chi sa (who knows).

  • Chissà dov’è Marco!
    Who knows where Marco is!


The verb fare can be used with both sapere and conoscere, but the two verbs take on a very different meaning.
Far sapere means to inform, let someone know.

  • Fammi sapere appena arrivi a casa, così non mi preoccupo.
    Let me know when you get home, so I don’t get worried.
  • Ti hanno fatto sapere a che ora è la festa?
    Did they inform you about what time the party will be?

Far conoscere means to introduce.

  • Perché non vuoi farmi conoscere tuo fratello?
    Why don’t you want to introduce me to your brother?
  • Mi ha fatto conoscere il paesino in cui è cresciuta.
    She showed me the small town where she grew up.


Strangely enough, sapere di means “to smell/taste of/like” something. It can therefore be used to describe smells and tastes of things and places.

    • Questa pasta sa solo di formaggio, non mi piace.
      This pasta only tastes like cheese, I do not like it.
    • Questo risotto non sa di niente.
      This risotto doesn’t taste like anything.
    • La tua giacca sa di fumo.
      Your jacket smells like smoke.


If you spend time with native speakers, especially from Toscany or the north of Italy, you might have heard someone expressing their opinion using mi sa che…

This is quite common, and it stands for a mix between “I think”, “I believe” and “I guess”. Use it when you kind of think something will happen, but you’re not so sure…

  • Mi sa che oggi piove.
    I I think it might rain today.
  • Mi sa che Giovanni non viene.
    I think/ guess Giovanni is not coming.

Sapere vs. Conoscere

After having learned all the ways to use the verb sapere, let’s look at the difference with conoscere.

Conoscere is used to talk about knowing someone. Here, using sapere would be completely wrong.

  • Conosci Gabriele?
    Do you know Gabriele?

It can also be used to talk about acquired knowledge of a specific subject, a knowledge resulting from study.

  • Conosciamo molto bene la poesia italiana.
    We know a lot about Italian poetry.

With places (cities, countries, regions, etc.) you also use conoscere.

  • Conosci Venezia?
    Do you know Venice?
  • Non conosco la Toscana, ma vorrei andarci presto.
    I do not know Tuscany, but I’d love to go there soon.

These are the three main difference in meaning between sapere and conoscere.

Of course, there are many gray areas, too, in which the two verbs can be interchangeable:

  • Sapete / conoscete le regole del gioco?
    Do you know the rules of the game?
  • So / conosco la differenza tra i due.
    I know the difference between the two.

Sapere: Conjugation

Now that we’ve learned the difference between sapere and conoscere, and that we know how and when to use the two, let’s look at sapere conjugation.

Here, you’ll find all the conjugations you need divided into levels: from beginners to advanced (including those tenses even some native speakers never get right!).

In the following tables, we will use the verb avere (to have) as the auxiliary to build compound tenses.

Don’t forget, though, that sapere can sometimes take essere (to be), for example when it is used as an auxiliary with a reflexive verb, as we’ve seen above.

In this case, do not forget: the participle saputo changes in gender and number to agree with the subject!)

Sapere Conjugation for Beginners

First of all, let’s see the most popular conjugations in the indicative mood: the present (presente), future simple (futuro semplice), imperfect (imperfetto), and present perfect (passato prossimo).

The indicative mood is a form used to make statements, ask questions and express facts and opinions. If you are starting to learn Italian, these are the first verb tenses you will need, for sure!




Passato Prossimo





ho saputo





hai saputo


Lui / Lei



ha saputo





abbiamo saputo





avete saputo





hanno saputo


Examples for Beginners

  • L’abbiamo saputo per caso.
    We found out by chance.
  • Sapete dov’è la stazione centrale?
    Do you know where the central station is?
  • Sapevi già parlare italiano?
    Did you already know how to speak Italian?

Sapere Conjugation for Intermediate Learners

In this section, we continue with the indicative mood. These tenses are less used but still very useful, especially for reading, writing, watching films, etc.
We will see: past perfect (trapassato prossimo), preterite (passato remoto), past preterite (trapassato remoto) and future perfect (futuro anteriore).

These are all compound tenses, which means they’re formed by two (or more) words, except the passato remoto.

Compound tenses are great as they allow you to just learn the conjugations of essere and avere and add the past participle saputo.


Trapassato prossimo

Passato remoto

Trapassato Remoto

Futuro anteriore


avevo saputo


ebbi saputo

avrò saputo


avevi saputo


avesti saputo

avrai saputo

Lui / Lei

aveva saputo


ebbe saputo

avrà saputo


avevamo saputo


avemmo saputo

avremo saputo


avevate saputo


aveste saputo

avrete saputo


avevano saputo


ebbero saputo

avranno saputo

Examples for Intermediate Learners

  • Seppi che era andato via, ma non lo vidi andarsene.
    I found out he left, but did not see him leaving.
  • Sicuramente entro domani l’avranno già saputo tutti.
    By tomorrow, everyone will already have found out for sure.
  • Aveva saputo della sua malattia solo pochi giorni prima.
    She had found out about her illness only a few days earlier.

Sapere Conjugation for Advanced Learners

Here we will look at the conditional mood of the verb sapere, used to talk about events that depend on a certain condition, and the subjunctive mood, which expresses demands and suggestions, hypothetical situations or wishes.

The Conditional Mood


Condizionale presente

Condizionale passato



avrei saputo



avresti saputo

Lui / Lei


avrebbe saputo



avremmo saputo



avreste saputo



avrebbero saputo

  • Se te l’avessi chiesto, avresti saputo rispondermi?
    If I had asked you, would you have been able to answer me?
  • Se tu non glielo dicessi, lei non lo saprebbe mai.
    If you do not tell her, she would never know.

The Subjunctive Mood


Congiuntivo presente

Congiuntivo passato

Congiuntivo Imperfetto



Che io


abbia saputo


avessi saputo

Che tu


abbia saputo


avessi saputo

Che lui / lei


abbia saputo


avesse saputo

Che noi


abbiamo saputo


avessimo saputo

Che voi


abbiate saputo


aveste saputo

Che loro


abbiano saputo


avessero saputo

  • Se solo sapessi cosa dice di te quando non ci sei.
    If only you knew what he says about you when you’re not there.
  • Io pensavo che loro l’avessero saputo da te, e non dalla polizia.
    I thought they had found out thanks to you, and not to the police.

Sapere: Imperative, Infinitive, Participle and Gerund

The imperatives of sapere are:


  • Sappi che non lo dimenticherò
    Know that I will not forget it.


  • Sappiate che non ci importa.
    Know that we do not care.

And here are the verbals of sapere:





Presente (present)




Passato (past)

avere saputo


avendo saputo

The present participle, sapiente, can also be used as a noun to talk about a person of great knowledge.

  • Gerardo è davvero un uomo sapiente.
    Gerardo really is a learned man.

Sapere in Context

I hope this guide on the conjugation of sapere was useful!

Before you go, let’s see some expressions with sapere that you will surely hear, and then a short dialogue with the conjugations in context.

Italian Expressions with Sapere

  • Saperla lunga
    to know a lot – also used sarcastically
  • Saperci fare con…
    to be good at something
  • Saperne una più del diavolo
    to have tricks up one’s sleeve
  • Buono a sapersi!
    Good to know!
  • Che io sappia…
    As far as I know . . .
  • Che ne so!
    How should I know / I have no idea!
  • Senza saperlo
  • Sapersi in giro
    to become known to others

A Dialogue


Hai saputo che Nico e Marina si sposano?

Have you heard that Nico and Marina are getting married?


Non ne avevo idea, che bello! E sai dove sarà il matrimonio?

I had no idea, how nice! And do you know where the wedding will be?


Che io sappia, sarà nella chiesa in centro.

As far as I know, it will be in the central church.


Buono a sapersi!

Good to know!


Sì, però non penso che si sappia ancora in giro, quindi non dirlo a nessuno.

Yes, but I think it is not common knowledge yet, so do not tell anyone.


Tranquillo, non c’è problema.

Don’t worry, I won’t.

Challenge yourself with Clozemaster

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