What's the difference between kennen and weten?

For Dutch learners, the distinction between kennen and weten can be somewhat puzzling, as both verbs can relate to "knowing" something in English. However, their usage in Dutch is specific to certain contexts, and understanding these can make their application much clearer.

Let's take a look.

Kennen: To be acquainted with

The verb kennen refers to being familiar or acquainted with people, places, or things. Think of it as recognizing or having knowledge of someone or something based on personal experience.

Ik ken haar al jaren. ("I've known her for years.")

Ken jij dat liedje? ("Do you know that song?")

Use kennen when referring to people you've met, places you've visited, or things you're familiar with.

Weten: To know a fact or piece of information

On the other hand, weten is used when you're talking about knowing specific information, facts, or how to do something. It's about cognitive knowledge rather than personal acquaintance.

Weet je hoe laat het is? ("Do you know what time it is?")

Ik weet niet waar hij woont. ("I don't know where he lives.")

Usage Tips

To simplify:

Kennen is about familiarity (knowing people, places, things).

Weten is about information (knowing facts, details).

Here's a tip: If you're trying to say "know" in the context of being acquainted with a person, you'll almost always use kennen. For specific pieces of information or details, use weten.