To know is to have an idea, understanding, or information about something. This is a very common verb in English.

past participle

These sentences and questions are in the present tense:

  • How many people do you know in your class?
  • Do you know what the capital of Belgium is?
  • Tony knows how to speak Spanish.
  • Vera doesn’t know the answer to the question.
  • The leaders of the city know what they want to do.
  • Not much is known about how the fire started. (This sentence is in the present tense, passive voice.)

These sentences and questions are in the past tense:

  • When Chen lived in Shanghai, he knew everyone on his street.
  • Did you know there was going to be a test today?
  • No one knew what to do for the man having the heart attack.
  • We didn’t know Shamso came from such a big family. (Now we know.)
  • I knew that was going to happen. I just knew it.

These sentences and questions are in perfect tenses:

  • Pedro and George have known each other since they were six years old. (present perfect tense)
  • How long have you known about their relationship? (present perfect tense)
  • Reena had never known who her birth mother was until just recently. (past perfect tense)

The word "know" is used with infinitives and gerunds:

  • We need to know more about what happened.
  • I want to know how to fix this.
  • Do you want to know the answer?
  • Knowing how to speak another language is a good skill.
  • Knowing that you have a problem is an important step towards dealing with it.
  • Knowing you are about to die can be a difficult experience for some people but a blessing for others.

The word "know" shows up in a few different expressions:

  • Well, what do you know? (The meaning depends on the situation. Sometimes it means I’m surprised! or it can mean I’m not surprised. You have to listen to the way a person’s voice sounds.)
  • She’s such a know-it-all. (She thinks she’s so smart and people dislike that.)
  • We were never in the know. (No one told us about this situation. It was secret.)
  • It’s been nice knowing you. (I’m never going to see you again. Good-bye.)

Note: The verb "know" is one of those verbs that is not ordinarily used in a continuous form. For example: "I am knowing many people," sounds very strange. It’s better to say, "I know many people." However, the word "knowing" is used as a gerund.

To learn more about the verb "know" click here.

To learn about a related word, "knowledge," click here.

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February 11, 2015