Trouble with SABER? Learn it with CHUNKS, never forget it again!
¿Tú sabes por qué esto sabe dulce? ¿Le pusiste algo?
(Do you know why this tastes sweet? Did you put something in it?)
Un poquito de sabor… ¿sabes? Para que supiera distinto.
(A little bit of flavor… you know? To make it taste different.)
I had a laugh researching this verb because I thought it was super simple. Then Spanish did its thing. As it turns out, this verb is not only irregular but very confusing since it looks exactly the same as an entirely different verb.
Yo soy Maura, de Spring Spanish and if that dialogue looked crazy to you, I got you. ¡Empecemos!
1. Yo sé (I know, taste)
Yo también sepo dulce. ¿Será la crema corporal que me prestaste?
(I taste sweet too. Could it be the body cream you lent me?)
No sé, puede ser. Esa crema es de cacao después de todo. ¿Sabes? Según lo que sé, no se dice “sepo dulce”.
(I don't know, maybe. That cream is cocoa after all. You know? As far as I know, it is not said “sepo”.)
¿No? ¿Es en serio? ¿Y entonces?
(No? Are you serious? What then?)
Se dice “yo sé dulce”. Igual que “yo sé que tú sabes” aunque sea otro significado.
(It is said “I taste sweet”. The same as “I know you know” although it has a different meaning.)
I have a confession to make: Yo siempre he dicho “yo sepo” cuando hablo de sabor (I have always said “yo sepo” when I’m talking about taste.) Apparently, it is a very common mistake, give me a break!
So, there. Ahora sabemos algo que la mayoría de los nativos no saben. De nada. (Now we know something that most natives don't know. You are welcome.)
All natives would know, though, the chunks inside our Essential Spanish Chunking kit. Make sure to access the link in the description so you can download it for free!
Lo que pasa con “saber” es que (What happens with “saber” is that), it means two things: to know and to taste. The conjugation for both is exactly the same. So, you’ll know if it’s one or the other by logic and context. También (also), “saber” as “to know” is far more common.
Let’s check out more example for both uses:
Yo sé (I know) when it means “to know”.
- Yo sé hablar inglés. (I know how to speak English.): notice Spanish doesn’t need the “how” English does, to talk about what you know how to do. Yo sé nadar, sé pintar, sé coser. (I know how to swim, I know how to paint, I know how to sew.)
- Me sé esa canción. (I know that song.)
- No sé nada sobre astrología. (I know nothing about astrology.)
Do notice that the very common expression “I know” has two equally common modalities in Spanish: Yo sé y lo sé. You can choose the one you prefer or use both of them as you please.
Yo sé (I taste) when it means “to taste”.
- Después de ir a la playa, yo sé salado. (After going to the beach I taste salty.)
- Con esta crema, yo sé dulce. (With this cream I taste sweet.)
Take into account that “to taste like something” is definitely a weird idea. Meaning, you won’t come across this or the need to use it almost never. Este “saber” es más común conjugado con otras personas, pero no con “yo”. (This “saber” is more common conjugated with other people, but not with “I”.)
2. Tú sabes (You know, taste)
¿Sabes si tenemos que hacer algo antes de meterlo al horno?
(Do you know if we have to do anything before putting it in the oven?)
Creo que solo hay que ponerle aceite de oliva.
(I think you only need to put olive oil in it.)
¡Sabes a gloria!
(You taste like glory!)
¿Estás hablando con la salsa?
(Are you talking to the sauce?)
Before I forget, stick around till the end where we’ll talk about how come the word “se” can have four different meanings in Spanish.
More examples with “tú sabes” (you know):
- ¿Sabes si tus amigos vendrán a la cena con sus parejas? (Do you know if your friends will come to the dinner with their partners?): this ¿sabes si…? (do you know if…?) is the chunk you should learn. Then you can add whatever you want afterwards.
- ¿Sabes? (Do you know?): by itself this little question works as the “you know” in English. It’s a filler word so, not a real question. Very common to say it before or after expressing a thought.
- ¡Si no sabes tú! (If you don’t know!)
Si no sabes tú (If you don’t know) is one of those idiomatic, very native ways to say that you don’t know something. Para ser más precisa (To be more precise), use it when the person asking should know the answer to the question. Incluso si tú sí la sabes. (Even if you do know it.)
For example, every time I asked my mom things like: ¡Mamá! ¿Dónde está mi delineador de ojos? (Mom! Where's my eyeliner?) She would say: Si no sabes tú (If you don’t know). She might have known, but she was kind of teaching me to grow up and account for my own things.
More examples with “tú sabes” (you taste):
- Sabes a café (You taste like coffee): you can use something like this after you kiss someone.
- ¿Cómo sabes tan sabroso? (How do you taste so tasty?): I would playfully bite a baby and say this to them, for example.
Por supuesto (Of course) there’s a time and place where telling someone that “saben a algo” (they taste like something) might be sexual. Pero, ey (But, hey) you’ll only know how they taste if the situation is sexual already, so go ahead and use it as such.
Conjugating this “saber” (to taste) with “tú” (you) is far more common that conjugating this “saber” with “yo” (I). Aunque sigue sin ser la conjugación más común. (Though it’s still not the most common conjugation.) What I want you to see is that conjugating this verb is just as common for every person when it means “to know”. But when it means “to taste” that is not at all the case.
3. Él, Ella, Usted, Ello sabe (He, She, Formal You, It knows / tastes)
¡Sí! Es que esta salsa sabe buenísima. Quedó genial.
(Yes! It's just that this sauce tastes so good. It turned out great.)
Mauricio sabe lo que hace con las salsas.
(Mauricio knows what he is doing with sauces.)
Realmente sabe cocinar en general.
(He really knows how to cook in general.)
Sí, pero mejor que no lo sepa que después se pone insoportable.
(Yes, but it's better that he doesn't know it, or he'll become unbearable.)
More examples with “él, ella, usted, ello sabe” (he, she, formal you, it knows):
- ¿Quién sabe? (Who knows?): this also works just as in English. It’s mostly a way to say that nobody knows. Paulísima made a video you can check out here, where she discusses this and other alternatives to “no sé” (I don’t know).
- Pregúntale a tu hermana, ella seguro sabe. (Ask you sister, she surely knows.)
- Nadie sabe qué pasará en el futuro. (Nobody knows what will happen in the future.)
More examples with “él, ella, usted, ello sabe” (he, she, formal you, it tastes):
- El té verde sabe a tierra. (Green tea tastes like dirt.): I like it though.
- Esto no sabe a nada, ponle sal. (This doesn’t taste like anything, put salt in it.)
- Sabe cómo la comida de mi mamá. (It tastes like my mom’s food.)
Now, this is the common conjugation for “saber” when it means “to taste”, since you’re usually talking about food and food is an “ello” (it).
4. Nosotros, Nosotras sabemos (We know)
Vale, igual nosotras también sabemos cocinar muy bien.
(Okay, we also know how to cook very well.)
Es verdad. ¿Sabes de quién no hemos sabido nada?
(It's true. Do you know who we haven't heard from?)
De Victoria. ¿Será que sabe que sabemos que está molesta con Mauricio?
(From Victoria. Could it be that she knows that we know she is upset with Mauricio?)
Por cierto (By the way) Juan does have a video about “saber vs conocer”, which you should watch to not confuse this two very similar verbs.
With nosotros, nosotras (we) we’re not even gonna bother with “saber” when it means “to taste ”. Too unlikely and too useless. Let’s focus on more examples for “saber” when it means “to know”:
- No sabemos nada de Victoria (We have not heard from Victoria.): this one’s interesting because English wouldn’t use “to know” for this. Spanish does talk about people you have heard from or not with “saber”.
- Las mujeres sabemos de discriminación. (We women know about discrimination.)
- Nos llamaron para que sepamos que llegarán tarde. (They called us so we know they’ll be late.): “sepamos” is still the present tense but in the subjunctive. ¡Por si acaso! (Just in case!)
5. Ustedes, Ellos, Ellas saben (Plural you, They know)
Que nosotras sabemos, sí. Pero no creo que sepa que los demás saben también.
(That we know, yes. But I don't think she knows that others know too.)
La verdad, ustedes supieron antes que yo. Yo solo me enteré por ti.
(To be honest (Lit.: The truth), you knew before I did. I only found out from you.)
¡No! Ahora quedo yo como la chismosa porque todos saben.
(No! Now I come up as the tattletale because everyone knows.)
Isn’t it a good thing that it’s the same conjugation for ustedes, ellos y ellas? (plural you, and they?) Eso pasa bastante, ¿sabes? (That happens a lot, you know?)
Let’s drill this into your head with more examples, shall we?
- Los latinos saben salir de fiesta. (Latinos know how to party.): not all. Well, yes, all.
- Ustedes saben que yo agradezco mucho que estén aquí. (You know how grateful I am that you are here.): I mean it.
- Ellos no saben que nosotras sabemos que ellos saben. (They don’t know that we know they know.): you can play with this verb in Spanish, just as you do in English.
6. Los diferentes tipos de “sé” (The different types of “sé”)
Before we go into that table, remember I said we’d talk about the word “sé”? Esta es la cosa (Here’s the thing), you could find more “sé” in Spanish y no quiero que te confundan (and I don’t want you to be confused by them.) Let’s cover them real quick. We’ll omit the one that means: “I taste like” because it’s too weird. So we have:
- Yo sé patinar. (I know how to skate.): this is the verb “to know” which we’ve been focusing on. Use the accent mark!
- Se llama Alicia.æ (Her name is Alicia.): this “se” doesn’t use an accent mark and it’s a type of pronoun in Spanish. Check out Paulísima’s video here if you want to understand this better.
- Por favor, sé amable. (Please, be kind.): now this “sé” is actually the verb “ser” (to be) and it also needs an accent mark.
Sé que el español puede volverse un poco loco cuando hace cosas como esta. (I know Spanish can get a little crazy when it does things like this.) Just remember to put the accent mark when it’s a verb. Trust that 90% on the time, it’ll be the verb “to know”.
Let’s jump into that table. What do I always say?: ¡Concéntrate en los chunks! (Focus on the chunks!). They’ll give you the right conjugation without you needing to memorize abstract rules!
7. La tabla (The table)
|Yo (I)||Sé (know)||Yo sé nadar. (I know how to swim.)|
|Tú (You)||Sabes (Know)||¿Sabes si tenemos orégano? (Do you know if we have oregano?)|
|Él, Ella, Usted, Ello (He, She, Formal You, It)||Sabe (Knows)||Esto sabe delicioso. (This tastes delicious.)|
|Nosotros, Nosotras (We)||Sabemos (Know)||No sabemos nada de Victoria. (We haven’t heard anything from Victoria.)|
|Ustedes, Ellos, Ellas (Plural You, They)||Saben (Know)||Ustedes saben que yo los amo. (You know I love you.)|