Clearing Confusion About “Meet,” “Met” and “Getting To Know Someone”

The Spanish verb for both meeting someone for the first time and knowing someone is conocer. This causes problems and creates confusion if the two get mixed up. Take this phrase as an example:

I want to meet her.
Quiero conocerla.
kee-ehr-oh koh-noh-sehr-lah.

But notice how the following phrase has the same Spanish translation even though the meaning in English is different:

I want to know her.
Quiero conocerla.
kee-ehr-oh koh-noh-sehr-lah.

Since conocer is also used for both meeting or knowing someone the way to clarify that is using conocer with llegar (to arrive):

I want to (get to) know her.
Quiero (llegar a) conocerla.
kee-ehr-oh (yeh-gahr ah) koh-noh-sehr-lah.

Another way that changes the context is using mejor (“better”). This will make it clear you are talking about wanting to “know you” rather than just “meet you.” Like if you’ve had contact by phone or on-line but haven’t met in person yet:

I want to know you better.
Quiero conocerte mejor.
kee-ehr-oh koh-noh-sehr-teh meh-hohr.

When talking about the past the actual meaning of conocer changes depending how you conjugate conocer. (Whether you’re using the preterite or imperfect past tense):

I met her three years ago.
La conocí hace tres años. (preterite form)
lah koh-noh-sEE ah-seh trehs ahn-yohs.

I knew her for three years.
La conocía por tres años. (imperfect form)
lah koh-noh-sEE-ah pohr trehs ahn-yohs.

The above phrase could be used in examples where someone moved away and you lost contact. That conjugation of conocer is also handy for phrases like this:

There were a lot of people at the party but I didn’t know them.
Había mucha gente en la fiesta pero no los conocía.
ah-bEE-ah moo-chah hehn-teh ehn lah fee-ehs-tah peh-roh noh lohs koh-noh-sEE-ah.

If you’re talking about friends or someone you still have contact with you can use this:

I’ve known her for three years.
La conozco desde hace tres años.
lah koh-nohs-koh dehs-deh ah-seh trehs ahn-yohs.


We’ve known each other for three years.
Nos conocemos desde hace tres años.
nohs koh-noh-seh-mohs dehs-deh ah-seh trehs ahn-yohs.

So conocer is used for meeting someone for the first time. What about “meeting someone” you already know at a specific place or time? In that case you don’t use conocer, you can use a different verb like encontrarse instead:

Let’s meet at the park.
Nos encontramos en el parque.
nohs ehn-kahn-trah-mohs ehn ehl pahr-keh.

Since encontrarse is an ar verb when you use it in the first person plural form (we, us) it conjugates the same for the present or the preterite:

We met at the park.
Nos encontramos en el parque.
nohs ehn-kahn-trah-mohs ehn ehl pahr-keh.

Notice how the Spanish translation is the same for both the above phrases? For context you can just add something to the phrase:

We met at the park last week.
Nos encontramos en el parque la semana pasada.
nohs ehn-kahn-trah-mohs ehn ehl pahr-keh lah seh-mah-nah pah-sah-dah.

In the above examples the context is this is a person you already know. If this was the first time meeting this person you would say:

We met (for the first time) at the park.
Nos conocimos en el parque.
nohs koh-noh-see-nohs ehn ehl pahr-keh.

Lastly, we’ll combine a couple things we’ve discussed above:

Let’s meet at the cafe and get to know each other better.
Nos encontramos en el café y llegar a conocernos mejor.
nohs ehn-kohn-trah-mohs ehn ehl kah-fEH y yeh-gahr ah koh-noh-sehr-nohs meh-hohr.

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