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Sapere sapere sapere

Sapere sapere sapere. We keep coming back to the same verbs, but there’s always something more to learn!

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We have already covered the verb sapere (to know, to know how to, to have the flavor/smell of) in previous lessons. But this week, Daniela talks about sapere once again. This time she discusses the most common meaning of sapere: to have knowledge of something. She explains how to use sapere in this sense, when followed by a verb in the infinitive rather than by a noun.

 

She explains about using the preposition di between conjugated sapere and the verb in the infinitive:

Allora diciamo: sappiamo di essere i più forti. I più forti.

So we say, "We know we're the strongest. The strongest."

Captions 23-24, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Verbo + Verbo all'infinito + preposizione DI

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So di essere in ritardo.
I know I am late. (Or, I know that I’m late.)

The preposition di is generally translated as "of," but the trick here is that in English we don’t use the preposition “of” in this kind of situation. We either use “that,” as in “I know that I am late,” or we don’t use any preposition at all, as in “I know I am late.” All in all, sapere plus di plus infinitive is a construction that is difficult to match up in English, so we just have to assimilate it as best we can.

 

Let’s look at some more examples of sapere plus di, so you can get a feel for it.

Uno stupido non sa di essere stupido (an idiot doesn’t know he’s stupid).
 

Sappiamo di doverti delle scuse (we know we owe you an apology).
 

Sai di essere l’unica persona in grado di risolvere il problema (do you know you are the only person able to solve the problem)?
 

Sapete di camminare in mezzo alla strada (do you know you are walking in the middle of the road)?
 

Sanno di infrangere la legge, ma non gli importa niente (they know they are breaking the law, but they don’t care).
 

Leonardo sa di essere stato scorretto con me (Leonardo knows he has not been fair with me).

 

One of the other ways sapere gets used is to mean “to know how to.” Daniela has explained this in another video lesson:

Per esempio, io posso dire: Luca sa nuotare.

For example, I may say, "Luca knows how to swim."

Caption 19, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Verbo + Verbo all'infinito - Part 1

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Here are some additional examples of this meaning. It should be mentioned that in this case, sapere acts like a modal verb, such as “can,” “must,” “may,” etc. Remember that with modal verbs, there is no preposition before the infinitive.

Non so parlare spagnolo (I don’t know how to speak Spanish).
 

Roberto non sa cucinare (Roberto doesn’t know how to cook).
 

Non sapete leggere fra le righe (you don’t know how to read between the lines).
 

miei genitori non sanno ballare (my parents don’t know how to dance).

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And let’s not forget that we can also use sapere before a noun.

Sai l’ora (do you know the time)?
 

So quello che dico (I know what I’m saying). 
 

So l’inglese (I know English.)
 

Di quella canzone, Gianna non sa abbastanza bene le parole (Gianna doesn’t know the words to that song well enough). 

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