Sapere Conjugation - To know in Italian

If your goal is to know the Italian language, Sapere Conjugation is certainly the thing you have to keep in mind. Sapere is a verb in Italian that means exactly that, to know. As we have said in this previous article, there is another verb that translates to know in Italian: the verb conoscere. They have different uses and meanings, and today we will focus on sapere.

Sapere means to know something and it is an irregular verb of the second conjugation. It can also have the meaning of to know how to do something and in that case it has a similar meaning but different use of conoscere. Sapere is also used in intransitive way and in that case it can also mean to have the taste / smell of . Also, sapere can have the meaning of to think / to suspect something.

Now, I know you are really curious about all these meaning and uses…
But, before starting to see all of them, let’s learn how to change it through the italian tenses!

Sapere Conjugation – Presente Indicativo

Sapere Conjugation - To know in Italian - Presente Indicativo
Io so
Tu sai 
Lui/lei sa 
Noi sappiamo 
Voi sapete 
Loro sanno

As an irregular verb, sapere doesn’t follow typical rules for the present tense. It has a unique form that you’ll need to learn by heart. 


Sappiamo tutti che Mario si è innamorato di Alice.
We all know that Mario has fallen in love with Alice.

Sai suonare la chitarra?
Can you play the guitar?

Questi turisti sanno parlare benissimo l’italiano .
These tourists can speak Italian very well.

Sapere Conjugation – Passato Prossimo 

Io ho saputo 
Tu hai saputo 
Lui/lei ha saputo
Noi abbiamo saputo
Voi avete saputo
Loro hanno saputo

Sapere is a transitive verb. Consequently, in the compound tenses it uses the verb avere as an auxiliary verb. Passato Prossimo is the first compound tense you’ll learn in your Italian journey. It’s the tense of the actions that happened in the recent past. Use this tense when you want to talk about what happened this morning, yesterday or a year ago etc.


Ho appena saputo la notizia, mi dispiace.
I just heard the news, I’m sorry. 

Hanno saputo che non ero a casa.
They heard that I wasn’t home.

Hai saputo qualcosa di Gianni?
Have you heard something about Gianni?

Sapere Conjugation – Imperfetto 

Io sapevo
Tu sapevi
Lui/lei sapeva
Noi sapevamo
Voi sapevate
Loro sapevano

Imperfetto is another important past tense in the Italian language. It’s used to express the habits from the past, to talk about emotions you had and to describe something in the past. 


Sapevo bene che non dovevo andare là, ma ci sono andato comunque.
I knew very well that I didn’t have to go there, but I went anyway.

Hai detto che sapevi come aiutarla.
You said you knew how to help her.

Tutti sapevano che era innocente.
Everyone knew he was innocent.

Sapere Conjugation – Trapassato Prossimo 

Sapere Conjugation - To know in Italian - Trapassato Prossimo
Io avevo saputo
Tu avevi saputo
Lui/lei aveva saputo
Noi avevamo saputo
Voi avevate saputo
Loro avevano saputo

Another compound tense you’ll need is Trapassato Prossimo. It’s formed by the verb avere in Imperfetto and Past Participle of the verb sapere. You’ll use this tense when you want to express the action that had happened before another one.


Avevo saputo che era tornata a Londra.
I had heard that she was back in London.

Ha già sentito che avevamo saputo del suo rapporto con Matteo.
She has already heard that we had found out about her relationship with Matteo.

Sapere Conjugation – Passato Remoto 

Io seppi
Tu sapesti
Lui/lei seppe
Noi sapemmo
Voi sapeste
Loro seppero

The verb sapere has irregular forms also in Passato Remoto. This tense is used to express actions that happened a long time ago in the past. It’s almost never used in the spoken language, but you’ll see it in the novels. 


Appena la vidi, seppi di essere nei guai.
As soon as I saw her, I knew I was in trouble.

E nessuno seppe mai che lo amavo.
And no one ever knew I loved him.

Tutti i parenti furono sorpresi quando seppero che loro due si sarebbero sposati.
All the relatives were surprised when they learned that they were getting married.

Sapere Conjugation – Trapassato Remoto 

Io ebbi saputo
Tu avesti saputo
Lui/lei ebbe saputo
Noi avemmo saputo
Voi aveste saputo
Loro ebbero saputo

Trapassato Remoto is made of the auxiliary verb in the passato remoto and the past participle. It’s always used in the sentences with the passato remoto to express action that happened before another one in the past. 


Dopo che ebbe saputo dove abitava Maria, andò a visitarla.
After he found out where Mary lived, he went to visit her.

Appena ebbero saputo il tuo indirizzo ti vennero a cercare.
As soon as they heard your address they came looking for you.

Sapere Conjugation – Futuro Semplice 

Sapere Conjugation - To know in Italian - Future Tense

Io saprò
Tu saprai
Lui/lei saprà
Noi sapremo 
Voi saprete
Loro sapranno

In Italian we can speak about the future in two ways. We use Futuro Semplice when we want to describe something that is going to happen at some point in the future. If you want to talk about your plans you can use Futuro Semplice


Se mi dici dove vuoi andare saprò dove portarti.
If you tell me where you want to go I’ll know where to take you.

Quando lo vedi, saprai cosa dirgli.
When you see him, you’ll know what to say.

Appena sapranno cosa è successo, verranno qua.
As soon as they know what happened, they will come here. 

Sapere Conjugation – Futuro Anteriore 

Io avrò saputo
Tu avrai saputo
Lui/lei avrà saputo
Noi avremo saputo
Voi avrete saputo
Loro avranno saputo

Another way to talk about the future is to use Futuro Anteriore. Use it when you want to talk about the action that will be finished in the future before another one starts. It’s also used to express assumptions about something that happened in the past but has consequences in the present. 


Ti telefono appena avrò saputo qualche novità.
I’ll call you as soon as I know something new.

Sono sicura che ormai l’avranno saputo.
I’m sure they must have heard by now.

Come avrete saputo, ci trasferiremo a New York.
As you may have heard, we are moving to New York City.

Sapere Conjugation – Congiuntivo Presente 

Sapere Conjugation - To know in Italian - Congiuntivo
Che io sappia
Che tu sappia
Che lui/lei sappia
Che noi sappiamo
Che voi sappiate
Che loro sappiano

The Subjunctive in Italian is called Congiuntivo. You have to use Congiuntivo when expressing your opinion, or when you talk about something that is not certain. Before the verb you will usually see the conjunction che

The Subjunctive is very used in Italian and it has 4 different tenses: Congiuntivo Presente, Congiuntivo Passato, Congiuntivo Imperfetto and Congiuntivo Trapassato


Immagino che tu sappia perché sei qui.
I guess you know why you are here.

Non voglio che sappiano dove mi trovo.
I don’t want them to know where I am. 

Credo che sappiate perché è andato via.
I think you know why he left.

Sapere Conjugation – Congiuntivo Passato 

Che io abbia saputo
Che tu abbia saputo
Che lui/lei abbia saputo
Che noi abbiamo saputo
Che voi abbiate saputo
Che loro abbiano saputo


Sembra che mio figlio abbia saputo dell’incidente.
It seems that my son heard about the incident.

Non so quanti di voi l’abbiano saputo, ma abbiamo delle buone notizie.
I don’t know how many of you have heard this, but we have some good news.

Credo che abbiate già saputo cosa era successo a Marco.
I think you already heard what had happened to Marco.

Sapere Conjugation – Congiuntivo Imperfetto 

Che io sapessi
Che tu sapessi
Che lui/lei sapesse
Che noi sapessimo
Che voi sapeste
Che loro sapessero


Pensavo che sapessi suonare il pianoforte.
I thought you knew how to play the piano.

Sembrava che non ne sapesse niente.
He didn’t seem to know anything about it.

Mario voleva che tutti sapessero del suo ritorno.
Mario wanted everyone to know about his return.

Sapere Conjugation – Congiuntivo Trapassato 

Che io avessi saputo
Che tu avessi saputo
Che lui/lei avesse saputo
Che noi avessimo saputo
Che voi aveste saputo
Che loro avessero saputo


Anche se l’avessi saputo, non avrei reagito diversamente.
Even if I had known, I wouldn’t have reacted differently.

Perché vi comportate come se aveste saputo qualcosa di molto brutto?
Why do you act like you’ve heard something really bad?

Pensavo che avessero già saputo tutto.
I thought they had heard it all before.

Sapere Conjugation – Condizionale Presente 

Sapere Conjugation - To know in Italian - Condizionale

Io saprei
Tu sapresti
Lui/lei saprebbe
Noi sapremmo 
Voi sapreste
Loro saprebbero

To express yourself in the polite and gentle mode you will need Condizionale. It’s also used to express wishes, hypothesis, doubt and regret. 


Non saprei cosa dire.
I wouldn’t know what to say.

Scusi, mi saprebbe dire dove si trova via Roma?
Excuse me, could you tell me where is via Roma?

Se fossi come tua madre, sapresti cucinare.
If you were like your mother, you would know how to cook. 

Sapere Conjugation – Condizionale Passato 

Io avrei saputo
Tu avresti saputo
Lui/lei avrebbe saputo
Noi avremmo saputo
Voi avreste saputo
Loro avrebbero saputo

Conditional in Italian has two tenses. It can be in the present and in the past. Condizionale Passato is also used to express the future action from the viewpoint of the past.


L’avresti saputo se fosse tornato in Italia.
You would have known if he had returned to Italy.

Gli ho assicurato che avremmo saputo cosa fare in quella situazione.
I assured him that we would know what to do in that situation.

Sapere Conjugation – Imperativo 

Sappi (Tu)
Sappia (Lei)
Sappiamo (Noi)
Sappiate (Voi)
Sappiano (Loro)

The Imperative of the verb sapere is irregular and it has its own forms. You use Imperativo in Italian, as in English, when you want to give orders, instructions or advice. 


Sappi che ti appoggerò, qualsiasi decisione prenderai.
Just know that I will support you, whatever decision you make.

Sappiate che vi vorremmo bene, per sempre.
Please know that we will love you, forever.

Sapere Conjugation – Infinito 

Present TensePast Tense
SapereAver saputo 


Ho bisogno di sapere dove hai dormito stanotte.
I need to know where you slept last night.

Dopo aver saputo che sono stata qui, mi ha chiamato.
After he heard I was here, he called me. 

Sapere Conjugation – Participio 

Present TensePast Tense

The present participle of the verb sapere is sapiente. It’s used as an adjective and means wise. Past participle of sapere is used in every compound tense in sapere conjugation. 


Era considerata una donna sapiente e molto in gamba.
She was considered a wise and very accomplished woman.

Ho saputo che il ragazzo che mi piace si è sposato.
I found out that the guy I like got married.

Sapere Conjugation – Gerundio

Present TensePast Tense
SapendoAvendo saputo

Gerundio in italian has a lot of uses. It can be in the present and in the past. You form it with the suffixes -endo or -ando


Supererò qualsiasi ostacolo, sapendo che sei al mio fianco.
I’ll get through any obstacles, knowing that you are by my side.

Avendo saputo della cattiva salute del padre, Alberto ha deciso di tornare a casa.
Having heard about his father’s ill health, Alberto decided to return home.

Different Uses Of Sapere In Italian

Sapere Conjugation - Different uses of sapere in Italian

1. Sapere Meaning to know (something)

The verb sapere literally means to know. More precisely, it means to know something, to know some fact or a situation

Unlike in English, in Italian we can’t use the verb sapere to say that we know someone. For that purpose we use the verb conoscere.


Sai cosa è successo ieri alla festa?
You know what happened at the party yesterday?

Sapevate che lei non è italiana?
Did you know that she is not Italian?

2. Sapere Meaning to find out, to become aware 

Sapere, when used in Passato Prossimo, means to find out, to hear about something.

Pay attention when you put the verb sapere in the past tenses. When it’s used in Imperfetto it means to know, but with Passato Prossimo it means to find out.

Let’s see some examples:

Ho saputo che Anna si è sposata con Marco.
I found out that Anna got married to Marco. 

Sapevo che loro non vengono alla festa.
I knew they don’t come to the party.

3. Sapere Meaning To be able to do something / Can 

Followed by an infinitive it’s used to express knowing how to do something, having some skill.


Mia sorella sa suonare la chitarra.
My sister can play the guitar.

Sai parlare la lingua italiana?

Can you speak Italian?

4. Sapere + di Meaning to taste like something else

Followed by preposition di it means to taste like something, or to give the impression of something.


Questo vino sa di aceto.
This wine tastes like vinegar.

Questa storia mi sa falsa.
This story sounds fake to me.

5. Sapere Meaning to think, to suspect

Sapere can also be translated as to think, to suspect but only when it refers to the speaker, in the first person. In that case we use the construction Mi sa che.

Let’s see some examples: 

Mi sa che non passa l’esame.
I think he won’t pass the exam.

Mi sa che domani piove.
I think it’s going to rain tomorrow.

With all this in your mind you are one step closer to finally sapere l’italiano. 

By: Lucia Aiello

Lucia Aiello is one of the co-founders of LearnItalianGo. Born and raised in Italy, she is a passionate Italian teacher and language enthusiast.