French Grammar: The Verb CONNAÎTRE

French Grammar: The Verb CONNAÎTRE

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French Grammar: The Verb CONNAÎTRE
la grammaire française: le verbe CONNAÎTRE

The verb CONNAÎTRE expresses knowledge, but in a specific sense.  It means to either know someone, someplace, or something – mostly in the sense of to be familiar with.

Study:

The verb CONNAÎTRE expresses knowledge, but in a specific sense.  It means to either know someone, someplace, or something – mostly in the sense of to be familiar with.

More specifically, CONNAÎTRE means to know someone in the sense of having already met them personally (e.g., “I know the French professor very well”), or to be familiar with a place or location (e.g., “I know Paris like the back of my hand”), or to be familiar with a body of work (e.g., “I know the novels of Victor Hugo”).

CONNAÎTRE is an irregular verb.  Here are the simple present tense forms of the verb CONNAÎTRE:

Je connais : I know

Tu connais : You (familiar) know

Il / Elle / On connait : He, It / She, It / One knows

Nous connaissons : We know

Vous connaissez : You (formal or plural) know

Ils / Elles connaissent : They (masculine) / They (feminine) know

CONNAÎTRE with knowing (i.e., being familiar with) people:

Tu connais ma soeur?
Do you (familiar) know (i.e., have you met) my sister?

Vous connaissez le professeur de français?
Do you (formal) know (i.e., have you met) the French professor?

Je la connais.
I know her.

CONNAÎTRE with knowing (i.e., being familiar with) places or locations:

Tu connais la ville de New York?
Do you (familiar) know (i.e., are you familiar with) New York City?

Vous connaissez l’université?
Do you (formal) know (i.e., are you familiar with) the university?

CONNAÎTRE with knowing (i.e., being familiar with) bodies of work:

Tu connais les romans de Victor Hugo?
Do you (familiar) know the novels of Victor Hugo?

Je connais très bien Les Misérables et Notre Dame de Paris.
I know
Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame very well.

NOTE:  FAIRE LA CONNAISSANCE DE means to meet (or literally, to make the acquaintance of):

Ce soir, je vais faire la connaissance de la femme de mon chef.
This evening, I am going to meet my boss’ wife.

Elle n’a pas encore fait la connaissance des parents de son petit-ami.
She has not yet met her boyfriend’s parents.

Adapt:

Vous connaissez mon frère?
Do you all know (i.e., have you met) my brother?

Oui, nous avons fait sa connaissance l’annèe dernière.
Yes, we met him last year.

Tu connais la bibliothèque de l’université?
Do you (familiar)  know (i.e., are you familiar with) the university library?

Non, je ne connais pas trop bien cette bibliothèque.  Je m’y perds toujours.
No, I am not very familiar with that library.  I always get lost there.

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