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"to know" in Mandarin | Differences between 知道 vs. 認識 vs. 熟 | Learn Chinese & Taiwanese Mandarin

Updated: Jul 22



單字表 Vocabulary List:

  • 知道 know [person/thing/place] (have knowledge/ know facts about sth.)

  • 認識 ①know [person] personally ② learn about [thing/place]

  • 熟 ①跟...很熟 know [person] well ②對...很熟 know [thing/place] well

  • 好兄弟 (male) close/best friend

  • 好姐妹 (female) close/best friend

  • 摯友 close/best friend

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逐字稿 Transcript:


(00:00:00) Intro

Hi 大家好, my name is Andy. I'm the host of Podcast "台味中文 Learn Chinese, the Taiwanese Way" and "來句中文 Lychee Mandarin." Today I'm going to teach you how to say "know something or someone (well)" in Mandarin.


For example, how do you say "I know this person (well)! She's my bestie!" or "I know this movie (well), I'm a huge fan!"


This may seem like an easy question, but in fact, the English word "to know" has to be broken down into multiple words in different situations in Mandarin.


(00:00:34) 知道 to know

Let's start with the basics. The verb "to know" usually means "知道" in Mandarin.

知道

(zhī dào)

(to know)


知道 means to have knowledge about something or someone.


For example, if you want to say "I know Taiwan and Thailand are different", you can say,

我知道台灣跟泰國是不一樣的。

(wǒ zhī dào tái wān gēn tài guó shì bù yí yàng de)

(I know that Taiwan and Thailand are different.)


And if you want to ask someone, "do you know Taiwan and Thailand are different?" You can use the same sentence structure, and simply add a "嗎 ma" at the end. Like,

你知道台灣跟泰國是不一樣的嗎?

(nǐ zhī dào tái wān gēn tài guó shì bù yí yàng de ma)

(Do you know Taiwan and Thailand are different?)



(00:01:22) 知道 vs. 認識 + [人] to know someone

But do you know other than 知道, there's another word for "to know" in Mandarin?


When you say "I know this person" in English it can mean you know this person exists, you've heard of this person. But it can also mean you know this person personally, you two have met or have spoken before.

In Mandarin for the first situation, we say 知道。

But for the second situation, we don't say 知道. We say,

認識

(rèn shì)

(to know someone personally)


Let me repeat. If you only know some information about this person, that's 知道.

But if you know this person personally, that's 認識.


Let's look at an example. If you tell your friends,

我知道Lady Gaga。

(wǒ zhī dào Lady Gaga)

(I know Lady Gaga.)


They will probably be like,

廢話!誰不知道啊?

(fèi huà ! shéi bù zhī dào a?)

(Duh! Who doesn't?)


Because Lady Gaga is so famous everyone would have at least heard of her. But if you say,

我認識Lady Gaga。

(wǒ rèn shì Lady Gaga)

(I know Lady Gaga personally.)


This will probably blow your friends' mind, and they'll be like,

真假!你怎麼認識她的?她是你的誰!

(zhēn jiǎ! nǐ zěn me rèn shì tā de? tā shì nǐ de shéi!)

(No way! How did you know her? What's your relationship?)


(00:02:57) 跟...很熟 to know someone well

So if you 認識 someone, it means you two have at least spoken to each other before, but it doesn't really show how close you two are. It can be you two only spoke once, or it can be you two are close friends. So the listener can't really tell how close the relationship is.


So how do you describe your familiarity with someone in Mandarin? The easiest way is to use the word, 熟.

(shóu)

(to know someone well / to be close with someone)


We usually say 跟...很熟. It means you are close with them or you two know each other well.

For example, you can say

我跟他很熟。

(wǒ gēn tā hěn shóu )

(I'm close with him. / We know each other well.)


Let's say your friend asks you,

你認識這個男生嗎?

(nǐ rèn shí zhè ge nán shēng ma)

(Do you know this guy?)


If you only spoke to him once and you didn't really like him, you can say,

認識,但是我跟他不熟,我也不想跟他熟。

(rèn shí, dàn shì wǒ gēn tā bù shóu, wǒ yě bù xiǎng gēn tā shóu)

(Yeah, but I don't know him well, and I don't want to either.)


If you and him have been friends for 10 years, you can say,

當然認識,我跟他很熟。我們當朋友十年了。

(dāng rán rèn shì, wǒ gēn tā hěn shóu, wǒ men dāng péng yǒu shí nián le)

(Yeah of course. I know him well. We've been friends for 10 years.)


(00:04:43) "I know her well. She's my bestie."

So back to the example at the start of the video.

If you get asked by someone,

你認識她嗎?

(nǐ rèn shì tā ma)

(Do you know her?)


And she happens to be your bestie. How do you say

"I know her well. She's my bestie." By the way if your bestie is a he it's 好兄弟, but if it's a she then it's 好姐妹, and a gender neutral option is 摯友. Ok so how do you say "I know her well. She's my bestie."


I'll give you the answer:

我跟她很熟。她是我的好姐妹。

(wǒ gēn tā hěn shóu. tā shì wǒ de hǎo jiě mèi )

(I know her well. She's my bestie.)



(00:05:41) 對...很熟 to know something/somewhere well

You can also use 熟 on places or things. We usually use 對...很熟. It means you know the thing or the place well.


Let's also do some comparisons between 知道 and 熟.

If you've never been to Australia, but you've heard of things about it, you might say something like,

我知道澳洲,就是那個很多動物都有袋子的地方啊!

(wǒ zhī dào ào zhōu, jiù shì nà ge hěn duō dòng wù dōu yǒu dài zi de dì fāng a)

(I know Australia. It's that place where a lot of animals have pouches(bags)!)


But If you've been there a couple of times and you know where the best places to go are, you can say,

我對澳洲很熟,哪裡好玩、哪裡好吃我都知道。

(wǒ duì ào zhōu hěn shóu, nǎ lǐ hǎo wán, nǎ lǐ hǎo chī wǒ dōu zhī dào )

(I know Australia well. I know where the fun is and where the good food is.)


Let's look at another example. If you're not a Star Wars fan and you've never watched it, you might say something like,

我知道星際大戰,就是那個很宅的電影啊!

(wǒ zhī dào xīng jì dà zhàn, jiù shì nà ge hěn zhái de diàn yǐng ā)

(I know Star Wars. It's that nerdy movie.)


But if you are a Star Wars fan, and you've even rewatched it for a hundred times, you can say,

我對星際大戰很熟,而且我每一句台詞都會背!

(wǒ duì xīng jì dà zhàn hěn shóu, ér qiě měi yí jù tái cí wǒ dōu huì bèi )

(I know Star Wars well, and I can even remember every single line!)


(00:07:29) 認識 + [物/地方] to learn about something / somewhere

Ok, so now let's go back to the word, 認識. Earlier, we learned that 認識 someone means to know someone personally. You may also wonder if we can say 認識 something or somewhere.


The answer is yes! But the meaning will be quite different than "to know."

When we say 認識 something or somewhere, it means to learn some facts or some knowledge of it.


For example,

這支影片讓我認識台灣的美。

(zhè zhī yǐng piàn ràng wǒ rèn shì tái wān de měi)

(This video let me learn about the beauty of Taiwan.)


Also, you may often hear this phrase, 讓我帶你來認識, such as,

讓我帶你來認識[台灣/台灣文化/葡萄酒]

(ràng wǒ dài nǐ lái rèn shì [tái wān / tái wān wén huà /pú táo jiǔ ])

(Let me help you learn about [Taiwan/Taiwanese culture/wine])


(00:08:33) Summary

Ok, let's sum this up.


If you know some facts about a person, a thing, or a place, you can use 知道.

我知道這個人。

(wǒ zhī dào zhè ge rén )

(I know this person.)


But if you know a person personally, you two have met and spoken before, or you're even friends, you can use 認識.

我認識這個人。

(wǒ rèn shì zhè ge rén)

(I know this person personally.)


To show that you know this person well, you two are close friends, you can use 跟...很熟

我跟這個人很熟。

(wǒ gēn zhè ge rén hěn shóu )

(I know this person well / I'm close with this person.)


For things or places, if you want to say I know this thing or this place well, you can say,

我對這個[地方/東西]很熟。

(wǒ duì zhè ge [dì fāng /dōng xī] hěn shóu )

(I know this place/this thing well.)


And finally if you say 認識 something or somewhere, it means to learn about it.

We often use it to introduce something to someone, like

讓我來帶你來認識這個地方。

(ràng wǒ lái dài nǐ rèn shì zhè ge dì fāng)

(Let me help you learn about this place.)


Alright, that's it for today! Thank you for watching this video.

If you enjoy this video please click like 按讚 and subscribe 訂閱.


And make sure you check out my two podcasts "Learn Chinese the Taiwanese way" and "Lychee Mandarin." These two podcasts are designed to help you immerse yourself in Taiwanese Mandarin and improve your listening skills. So make sure you check them out.


那我們下次再見,掰掰! Until next time, bye!

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