Kennen vs. Wissen in German- What Is The Difference?

Many European languages, unlike English, have two verbs for “to know”. One for factual knowledge and one for experienced-based knowledge. In this post, I‘ll explain what these verbs are in German and show when we would use them.



“Wissen“ is used for knowing something for a fact, while “kennen” denotes knowledge that is based on experience and familiarity.


Ich weiß, dass London die Hauptstadt Großbritanniens ist.

(I know that London is the capital of the UK)


Sie weiß, dass sie morgen arbeiten muss.

(She knows that she needs to work tomorrow)


Ihr wisst, dass ich Griechenland liebe.

(You know that I love Greece)


As you see from the above, it is very common to use wissen followed by a dass clause in German. All of these statements are factual, even the third one as you wouldn’t be able to acquire this knowledge based on experiences.


Ich kenne viele griechische Inseln, weil ich jeden Sommer in Griechenland Urlaub mache.

(I know many Greek islands because I spend holiday there every summer)


Er kennt sie seit der Schulzeit.

(He has known her since their time at school)


Wir kennen viele deutsche Wörter.

(We know many German words)


Any student of the German language will understand why the last example is using “kennen” because it requires a lot of experienced-based effort and repetition to learn German words 😉.

On our German Language Blog "Auf Deutsch, bitte!", you will find posts on many topics in German grammar that will help you to progress more quickly in German- from adjective endings in German, the four German cases, pronouns, prepositions, the Plusquamperfekt tense in German to German syntax. We also teach you helpful German words and phrases for your next trip to Germany, list the ten most useful German verbs to get your German off the ground, give you tips on how to avoid the 5 most common grammatical mistakes in German, tell you how to translate English word busy into German, review of the language apps Duolingo, Memrise, Babbel, and Busuu, explain the difference between language levels A1, A2, B1, B2 etc., list the best online resources to learn German, give you an estimate of how long it takes to learn German, and we compare the most popular online dictionaries Linguee, dict.cc, dict.leo and Collins. So check out our blog and let us know what you think.


Find out more about our German lessons, small German classes, and online German courses here.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts