Wissen vs. KennenWhat' the difference?

Discover the nuances between "wissen" and "kennen" in German, and when to use each verb correctly.

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Learning a new language can be challenging, especially when it comes to understanding the subtle differences between similar words. In German, two verbs that often cause confusion for learners are "wissen" and "kennen". Both words mean "to know", but they are used in different contexts. In this blog post, we'll explore the differences between these two verbs and give you examples to help you understand how to use them correctly.


"Wissen" means "to know" in the sense of having knowledge or information about something. It is used to express familiarity with a fact or concept.

For example:

Ich weiß, dass Berlin die Hauptstadt von Deutschland ist.

I know that Berlin is the capital of Germany.
Weißt du, wo der nächste Supermarkt ist?

Do you know where the nearest supermarket is?
Ich weiß die Antwort auf diese Frage nicht.

I don't know the answer to that question.
Er weiß viel über Musik.

He knows a lot about music.


"Kennen" means "to know" in the sense of being familiar with a person, place, or thing. It is used to express acquaintance or recognition.

For example:

Ich kenne Maria schon seit fünf Jahren.

I've known Maria for five years.
Kennst du den Mann da drüben?

Do you know the man over there?
Ich kenne ihren Namen nicht.

I don't know her name.
Sie kennen sich nicht sehr gut.

They don't know each other very well.

Dialogue To further illustrate the differences between "wissen" and "kennen", let's look at a dialogue between two friends:

Ich weiß nicht, wie ich diesen Text übersetzen soll.
I do not know how to translate this text.
Kann ich dir helfen? Ich kenne mich mit Deutsch-Englisch Übersetzungen aus.
Can I help you? I know a lot about German-English translations.
Ja, das wäre toll. Weißt du wie man das Wort 'Eichhörnchen' übersetzt?
Yes, that would be great. Do you know how to translate the word 'Eichhörnchen'?
Oh, das Tier kenne ich nicht... ach, doch, ich weiß welches du meinst! Das ist 'squirrel'.
Oh, I don't know that animal... Oh, yes, I know which one you mean! That's 'squirrel'.

In this dialogue, Nadar uses "wissen" to express that he doesn't have knowledge of how to translate the text. Nietzche, on the other hand, uses "kennen" to express that she is familiar with Deutsch-Englisch Übersetzungen.

Conclusion In summary, "wissen" and "kennen" are two German verbs that both mean "to know", but are used

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