Difference Between Kennen and Wissen

Kennen vs Wissen

What do you do when you find people using two different verbs for the same action in a language? Yes, this is what happens when students are learning grammar to master German language. Kennen and Wissen are two verbs that are used to express the same act of knowing or to know in English. In fact, there is a whole chapter devoted to explaining the difference between Kennen and Wissen in German grammar classes. If you too are facing the same problem of choosing the right verb between Wissen and Kennen, read on.

Wissen is a word that is used to indicate knowledge about facts and objects. One can use it when he wants to let others know that he knows a fact of a place or a thing. When you have knowledge about something, you make use of Wissen.

Familiarity with a person or a place is expressed with the help of the verb Kennen. Also, when you can answer a question with just a noun or a pronoun, it has to be Kennen and not Wissen. Wissen is used when the answer requires a whole sentence and not just a noun, pronoun, or a phrase. One thing to remember is that when Wissen is used to indicate one’s knowledge, it is followed by a subordinate clause that usually begins with wo, warum, wann, or wer.

What is the difference between Kennen and Wissen?

• If you are talking about familiarity with a person or a place, make use of Kennen. For example, ‘do you know my brother’ would require the use of Kennen in proper tense.

• When expressing your knowledge about a fact, make use of Wissen. Do you know the name of this station? This is a question that requires the use of Wissen.

  • Milo

    It is a distinction that occurs in Italian as well with sapere (to know a fact) and conoscere (to have knowledge about a fact).