Je ne sais pas.
zhun say PAH. Click below to hear this pronounced!
I don’t know.
There’s more to this than meets the eye! But that’s what you’ve come to expect from Spk Frnch, isn’t it?
Okay. Three verbs: savoir, connaitre, ignorer. Three different connotations. Three ways of saying I don’t know in French.
And let’s add a direct pronoun, to make the differences clearer. So: Je ne le sais pas, zhun luh say PAH.
This first one comes from savoir, yet another irregular verb, which means to know (a fact) or to know how (to do something). When you say Je ne le sais pas, you are saying I don’t know it (that fact, such as who was the 16th President of the US).
Then there’s connaître (kuh-NET-truh). That means to know (a person), to be familiar with (person, place, work of art, piece of music, book, etc.). Also an irregular verb, by the way. (You knew that was coming, right?) So je ne le connais pas means I’m not familiar with that/him/it. For example, you’ve heard the title of the book, maybe even read a review, but you haven’t read the book (yet; you really mean to do it, don’t you?).
And then there’s ignorer. Nope, it doesn’t mean to ignore. That’ll be another post. (But it is perfectly regular, for a change.) This one means not to know, as in not to be aware of, or to know nothing about. Je l’ignore means I don’t know a thing about it! Or Not that I’m aware of!
Is there a way to make all of this easier? Je l’ignore! Can a steady diet of reading Spk Frnch help? Je ne sais pas, but I hope so! Are you familiar with @spkfrnch on Twitter? Please don’t say Connais pas (which is slang for Je ne le connais pas)!