Meaning of KNOW in English

transcription, транскрипция: [ noʊ ]

( knows, knowing, knew, known)

Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.


If you know a fact, a piece of information, or an answer, you have it correctly in your mind.

I don’t know the name of the place...

‘People like doing things for nothing.’—‘I know they do.’...

I don’t know what happened to her husband...

‘How did he meet your mother?’—‘I don’t know.’...

We all know about his early experiments in flying...

They looked younger than I knew them to be...

It is not known whether the bomb was originally intended for the capital itself...

It’s always been known that key figures in the government do very well for themselves.

VERB : no cont , V n , V that , V wh , V , V about n / -ing , V n to-inf , it be V-ed wh , it be V-ed that


If you know someone, you are familiar with them because you have met them and talked to them before.

Gifford was a friend. I’d known him for nine years...

Do you two know each other?...

VERB : no cont , V n , V n


If you say that you know of something, you mean that you have heard about it but you do not necessarily have a lot of information about it.

We know of the incident but have no further details...

I know of no one who would want to murder Albert.

VERB : no cont , V of n , V of n


If you know about a subject, you have studied it or taken an interest in it, and understand part or all of it.

Hire someone with experience, someone who knows about real estate...

She didn’t know anything about music but she liked to sing.

VERB : no cont , V about n , V amount about n


If you know a language, you have learned it and can understand it.

It helps to know French and Creole if you want to understand some of the lyrics...

VERB : no cont , V n


If you know something such as a place, a work of art, or an idea, you have visited it, seen it, read it, or heard about it, and so you are familiar with it.

No matter how well you know Paris, it is easy to get lost...

VERB : no cont , V n


If you know how to do something, you have the necessary skills and knowledge to do it.

The health authorities now know how to deal with the disease...

We know what to do to make it work.

VERB : no cont , V wh to-inf , V wh to-inf


You can say that someone knows that something is happening when they become aware of it.

Then I saw a gun under the hall table so I knew that something was wrong...

The first I knew about it was when I woke up in the ambulance.

VERB : no cont , V that , V about n


If you know something or someone, you recognize them when you see them or hear them.

Would she know you if she saw you on the street?...

VERB : no cont , V n


If someone or something is known as a particular name, they are called by that name.

The disease is more commonly known as Mad Cow Disease...

He was born as John Birks Gillespie, but everyone knew him as Dizzy...

He was the only boy in the school who was known by his Christian name and not his surname.

...British Nuclear Fuels, otherwise known as BNFL.

VERB : no cont , be V-ed as n , V n as n , V n by n , V-ed


If you know someone or something as a person or thing that has particular qualities, you consider that they have those qualities.

Lots of people know her as a very kind woman...

VERB : V n as n


see also knowing , known


If you talk about a thing or system as we know it , you are referring to the form in which it exists now and which is familiar to most people.

He planned to end the welfare system as we know it.



If you get to know someone, you find out what they are like by spending time with them.

The new neighbours were getting to know each other...

PHRASE : get inflects , PHR n


People use expressions such as goodness knows , Heaven knows , and God knows when they do not know something and want to suggest that nobody could possibly know it. ( INFORMAL )

‘Who’s he?’—‘God knows.’

PHRASE : PHR as reply, PHR wh


You say ‘ I know ’ to show that you agree with what has just been said.

‘This country is so awful.’—‘I know, I know.’



You say ‘ I know ’ to show that you accept that something is true, but think that it is not very important or relevant.

‘There are trains straight from Cambridge.’—‘I know, but it’s no quicker.’



You use ‘ I know ’ to express sympathy and understanding towards someone.

I know what you’re going through.

PHRASE : PHR wh / that


You can use I don’t know to indicate that you do not completely agree with something or do not really think that it is true.

‘He should quite simply resign.’—‘I don’t know about that.’

PHRASE : usu PHR about n , PHR that


You can say ‘ I don’t know about you ’ to indicate that you are going to give your own opinion about something and you want to find out if someone else feels the same.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m hungry...

PHRASE : PHR but cl


You use I don’t know in expressions which indicate criticism of someone’s behaviour. For example, if you say that you do not know how someone can do something, you mean that you cannot understand or accept them doing it.

I don’t know how he could do this to his own daughter...

PHRASE : PHR wh [ disapproval ]


People sometimes use expressions such as I’m blessed if I know or damned if I know to emphasize the fact that they do not know something. ( INFORMAL )

‘What was that all about?’—‘Darned if I know.’

PHRASE : oft PHR as reply, PHR wh [ emphasis ]


If you are in the know about something, especially something that is not known about or understood by many people, you have information about it.

It was gratifying to be in the know about important people...

PHRASE : usu v-link PHR


You can use expressions such as you know what I mean and if you know what I mean to suggest that the person listening to you understands what you are trying to say, and so you do not have to explain any more. ( SPOKEN )

None of us stayed long. I mean, the atmosphere wasn’t–well, you know what I mean...



You say ‘ You never know ’ or ‘ One never knows ’ to indicate that it is not definite or certain what will happen in the future, and to suggest that there is some hope that things will turn out well.

You never know, I might get lucky...

CONVENTION [ vagueness ]


You say ‘ Not that I know of ’ when someone has asked you whether or not something is true and you think the answer is ‘no’ but you cannot be sure because you do not know all the facts.

‘Is he married?’—‘Not that I know of.’

CONVENTION [ vagueness ]


You can use expressions such as What does she know? and What do they know? when you think that someone has no right to comment on a situation because they do not understand it.

Don’t listen to him, what does he know?...

PHRASE : oft PHR about n [ disapproval ]


You use you know to emphasize or to draw attention to what you are saying. ( SPOKEN )

The conditions in there are awful, you know...

You know, it does worry me.

CONVENTION [ emphasis ]


You use you know when you are trying to explain more clearly what you mean, by referring to something that the person you are talking to knows about. ( SPOKEN )

Wear the white dress, you know, the one with all the black embroidery.



You can say ‘ You don’t know ’ in order to emphasize how strongly you feel about the remark you are going to make. ( SPOKEN )

You don’t know how good it is to speak to somebody from home.

PHRASE : PHR wh [ emphasis ]


to know best: see best

to know better: see better

to know no bounds: see bound

to know something for a fact: see fact

as far as I know: see far

not to know the first thing about something : see first

to know full well: see full

to let someone know: see let

not to know the meaning of the word: see meaning

to know your own mind: see mind

to know the ropes: see rope

Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Английский словарь Коллинз COBUILD для изучающих язык на продвинутом уровне.