Learn to use correctly the verbs kennen and wëssen in Luxembourgish

Wëssen and kennen both translate to to know

I know that for a lot of English speakers, it does not make sense to have two verbs for a simple verb.
A real problem… unless your mother tongue is, say, Spanish or Italian or French or Portuguese or Hungarian etc because all these languages have two words as well.

For a native speaker of English having two options for to know is really something to get used. So today we’ll look a straight forward way to tell them apart.

A best and easy rule of thumb for when to use wëssen and kennen is this:

Wëssen is for information that is expressed using a verb.

Kennen is for things, persons, places.

Listen to the podcast of this lesson or the video presentation for the correct pronunciation.

Kennen

is used when we want to express that we are familiar with a person or something or a place .

A good hint is: the answer should be either a noun or a pronoun:

Examples:

Kenns du den neien NoperDo you know the new neighbour?

Nee, ech kennen hien nach net. No, I don’t know him yet.

Ech kennen dat Buch schonn. I already know that book.

Ech kenne Lëtzebuerg, well ech do gelieft hunn.  I know Luxembourg, because I lived there.

Wëssen

should be used when we want to express a fact or something that we have knowledge about.

Ech weess dat. I know that.
Ech weess Bescheed. I know, I am informed.

A good guideline: the answer would requiere a phrase as opposed to a noun or pronoun and most of the time you would have a subordinate clause which starts with  datt, wéi, wann, wou, wien, firwat, ob, wéini ….

Examples:

Weess du, wéi al hien ass? Do you know how old he is?
Ech weess, datt hien 12 Joer al ass. I know that he is 12 years old.
Weess du, wéini d’Reunioun ufänkt? Do you know when the meeting begins?
Mir wëssen net, ob hien haut kënnt.  We don’t know, if he is coming today.

And the word iwwer goes with wëssenEppes wëssen iwwer means “to know something about“. Even if you refer to a person you would use wëssen in this case.

Examples:
Ech weess vill iwwer hien. I know a lot about him.
De Proff weess vill iwwer lëtzebuergesch Geschicht – The teacher knows a lot about Luxembourgish history.

BUT
Ech kennen hien. I know him.
De Proff kennt e puer flott Anekdoten.  The teacher knows some great anecdotes.

There are of course some exceptions but this can lead to some confusion, so I decided not to mention them in this lesson.

EXPRESSIONS

Hie kennt vun Tuten a Blosen näischt. He doesn’t know anything.
Wie mengt, dee weess näischt. If you are not sure about something, then you should not talk about it.

And of course if you have any questions about this, just send me an email at anne@glift.lu

I hope you liked it and until next week.


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