Knew or Known: Which Is Correct? (With Examples)

Marcus Froland

Hitting the books to learn English can feel like a wild ride sometimes. There are those pesky grammar rules that seem straightforward until they’re not. Today, we’re zooming in on two little words that pack a punch in the confusion department: knew and known. You might think you’ve got this in the bag, but even seasoned speakers scratch their heads over these.

So here’s the deal. We’re not just going to tell you which one is correct. That’d be too easy, right? Instead, we’ll peel back the layers and show you how to use each word like a pro. And just when you think it’s all clearing up, we’ve got a twist waiting for you that will leave you hanging on for more.

The answer to knew or known: which is correct, depends on the sentence structure. Use knew when referring to something in the past that was clear at a specific time. For example, “I knew him when we were in school.” On the other hand, use known as the past participle form with have, has, or had. This applies to situations where you’re talking about experiences up until now. For instance, “He has known her for years.” Remembering this simple rule will help you choose the right word every time.

Understanding the Basics of “Know” in Grammar

When it comes to grammar, the verb “know” might seem simple at first glance, but it actually involves various forms and conjugations depending on the tense. By understanding the basics of “know” in grammar, you can effectively express the nuances of knowledge and familiarity in different situations. In this section, we’ll examine the present tense form of “know,” its third-person singular form “knows,” as well as the present participle “knowing.”

The present tense of “know” describes a state of current knowledge or familiarity with someone or something. For instance, you might say, “I know how to drive.” This indicates that you possess knowledge on driving at the present time. When referring to the third-person singular (he, she, or it), you would use the form “knows” as in, “She knows the answer.”

When it comes to continuous tenses – present continuous, past continuous, and future continuous – you’ll need the present participle “knowing.” This is combined with auxiliary verbs such as “am,” “is,” or “are” in the present continuous tense, like this example: “He is knowing the facts.” Additionally, the present participle can also be used to show the cause for a particular action: “Knowing the traffic was bad, I left early.”

Here are some examples of how “know” is used in different situations:

  1. Simple present tense: “I know the rules.”
  2. Third-person singular: “He knows the way.”
  3. Present continuous tense: “She is knowing the truth.”
  4. Showing cause: “Knowing he would be late, she started dinner without him.”

Remember, understanding the basics of “know” in grammar is essential for effectively communicating time-related aspects of knowledge in different situations and tenses.

By familiarizing yourself with the grammar basics of the verb “know,” including its conjugation and usage in different tenses, you can greatly improve your overall communication skills and avoid common linguistic mistakes.

The Simple Past Tense: When to Use “Knew”

The verb “knew” is properly used in the simple past tense to represent knowledge or awareness from a past time. This means that it is a perfect fit for both literary and everyday language examples that describe actions or states of being with no direct connection to the present reality.

Examples in Literature and Everyday Language

In literature, particularly classic novels and poetry, the use of “knew” is abundant. Some of the finest writers like Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf have employed the past tense of “know” to portray the feelings and thoughts of their characters. To give you a clearer understanding, here’s an example from Hemingway’s famous work, The Old Man and the Sea:

“He knew he was beaten now finally and without remedy.”

When it comes to everyday language, “knew” is also frequently utilized in casual conversations, text messages, and social media interactions. For instance:

  1. I knew you would be late.
  2. We knew they would throw a surprise party for us.
  3. She knew the answer, but she didn’t raise her hand.
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Common Mistakes to Avoid with “Knew”

While “knew” seems to be a pretty straightforward verb, people still commit common mistakes when using it. Most errors stem from confusing “knew” with the present tense or past participle form of “know.” Here are some examples of what not to do while using “knew”:

  • Incorrect: I have knew the truth since last week.
    Correct: I have known the truth since last week.
  • Incorrect: They had knew about the plan for months.
    Correct: They had known about the plan for months.
  • Incorrect: We knows everything about the project.
    Correct: We knew everything about the project.

Paying close attention to your use of “knew” in specific contexts ensures clear and concise communication, whether in literature or everyday language. By avoiding the common errors related to “knew,” you can demonstrate your mastery of correct past tense usage.

Distinguishing Between Past Tense and Past Participle

Understanding the difference between the past tense and past participle forms of verbs is crucial for effective communication in English. In the case of knew and known, appreciating their distinct usages allows you to accurately express the intended meaning and timeframe. Let’s break down the key differences and grammar rules for these past forms of the verb “know”.

The simple past tense, represented by “knew” in this context, is used to describe past actions or states without connecting them to the present. It does not require an auxiliary verb, which makes it a more straightforward form to use when discussing a past event. For example:

She knew the answer to the riddle.

In contrast, the past participle “known” must be accompanied by auxiliary verbs such as “have,” “has,” or “had” to create perfect tenses. These tenses indicate that a past action or state is either ongoing or has relevance to the present. Using “known” enables you to situate your message relative to the present moment, as shown in this example:

He has known her since college.

To further clarify the differences between past tense and past participle, consider the following guidelines:

  1. Past Tense: Use “knew” to describe an action or state in the past without connecting it to the present.
  2. Past Participle: Utilize “known” with an auxiliary verb to form perfect tenses, denoting continuity or relevance to the present.

By adhering to these grammar rules for past forms, you can accurately convey your intended meaning and maintain consistency in your writing and speech.

Exploring the Past Participle: “Known” in Context

As you delve further into the world of grammar, it is essential to understand the role of the past participle “known” within perfect tenses. This verb form is typically paired with auxiliary verbs and used to signify actions that began in the past and either continue into the present or have some relevance to it.

“She has known him for many years.”

In this example, the speaker connects their past acquaintance with someone to their current relationship, highlighting the relevance of the past to the present moment. Knowing when to use “known” correctly within context is crucial for conveying the intended timeframe and continuity of knowledge.

Let’s explore some common perfect tenses that incorporate “known” and discuss their unique qualities and benefits in expressing various aspects of knowledge:

  1. Present Perfect: This tense is formed by using have or has as the auxiliary verb, followed by “known.” For example, “You have known her for a long time.” This tense is often used when expressing the continuation of past knowledge or experience into the present.
  2. Past Perfect: The past perfect tense is formed by pairing had with “known.” An example would be, “She had known him since grade school, so their friendship was quite strong.” This tense is ideal when expressing knowledge or experience that existed up until a specific point in the past.
  3. Future Perfect: Formed by using the auxiliary verb will have followed by “known,” the future perfect tense is typically employed to express knowledge or experience that will exist at a specific point in the future. For instance, “By the end of the semester, they will have known each other for six months.”
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As you can see, perfect tenses with “known” offer many useful ways to express different relationships between past, present, and future knowledge. Keep these distinctions in mind when composing grammatically accurate and contextually appropriate sentences.

Conjugation of “Know” in Different Tenses

The verb “know” has various conjugations depending on the tense being used, including the present perfect tense, past perfect tense, and future perfect tense. Understanding the proper conjugation for each tense can greatly improve your ability to express time-related aspects of knowledge in writing and speech. Let’s examine the usage of each tense and its conjugation.

“I have known about this issue for several weeks.”
“Before the announcement was made, I had known about the decision for days.”
“By next year, you will have known each other for a decade.”

Present Perfect: “Have Known” and Its Usage

In the present perfect tense, conjugation occurs with the help of the auxiliary verb “have” or “has,” depending on the subject. This tense links past experiences or knowledge to the current moment by suggesting a past action or state with relevance or continuity into the present. For example:

  • I have known Mary for 10 years.
  • He has known about the surprise party since last week.

Past Perfect: “Had Known” in Detailed Examples

In the past perfect tense, the detailed use of the past participle “known” requires “had” as the auxiliary verb. This tense indicates that knowledge existed before a certain point in the past. It allows you to discuss an action completed before another past event, as in the following past perfect conjugation examples:

  • They had known the truth before the rumors started.
  • By the time the movie began, she had known the plot twist from reading the book.

Future Perfect: When Will “Will Have Known” Apply?

In the future perfect tense, the conjugation “will have known” projects present knowledge into a future context. This tense indicates that an action will be completed by a certain point in the future. Some future perfect conjugation examples include:

  1. In two months, you will have known your new coworkers well.
  2. By 2023, they will have known all the advanced techniques in their field.

Taking the time to familiarize yourself with the conjugation of “know” in different tenses can greatly enhance your ability to clearly and accurately express the time and context of knowledge in your writing and conversation.

Connecting “Knew” and “Known” with Auxiliary Verbs

Mastering the correct use of auxiliary verbs is essential when working with “knew” and “known” to establish the appropriate tense. While “knew” serves as the simple past tense without any auxiliary support, “known” relies on auxiliaries such as “have,” “has,” or “had” to form perfect tenses, signifying completed actions across various timeframes.

Let’s delve into how auxiliary verbs play a role in connecting past tense and participle forms:

  1. Be careful with “knew” – Remember that “knew” is the simple past tense form and does not require an auxiliary. For instance, “She knew the answer.”
  2. Combine “known” with auxiliaries – To create the present perfect tense, combine “known” with “have” or “has,” as in “I have known her for years.” For the past perfect tense, use “had,” like “She had known the truth all along.”

Stay mindful of the specific tenses and forms required for a clear, effective expression of meaning. To further support your understanding, consider these examples:

I knew him before he became famous. (Simple past tense)

They have known each other since college. (Present perfect tense)

He had known about the surprise party. (Past perfect tense)

Being well-versed in the roles of auxiliary verbs allows you to distinguish between “knew” and “known” with ease, elevating your written and spoken language skills. Always remain vigilant when pairing these verb forms with auxiliary verbs, ensuring that the intended meaning is accurately communicated across different timeframes. By doing so, you’ll achieve greater clarity and professionalism in your English language usage.

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The Evolution of “Know”: From Old English to Modern Use

The fascinating evolution of know highlights the rich history of the English language. From its roots in Old English to its current form in Modern English, understanding the development of this versatile verb gives us valuable insights into its various functions and forms. Let’s embark on a brief journey tracing the verb “know” from its beginnings in Old English to the present day, exploring how “knew” and “known” have persevered and diversified throughout the ages.

Old English “cnawan” meant “to perceive a thing to be identical with another.”

The history of the verb “know” starts with its origin in Old English (cnawan), stemming from Proto-Germanic and ultimately rooted in Proto-Indo-European languages. An integral part of the English lexicon, “know” has evolved to express recognition, acknowledgment, or understanding in various forms, such as “know,” “knows,” “knew,” and “known.”

As languages evolve, they often shape and refine certain words or phrases to fulfill specific roles and maintain clarity. In the case of the verb “know,” this linguistic progression has preserved the distinction between the different forms of the verb, such as “knew” and “known,” enabling speakers to convey various shades of meaning and temporal context.

  1. Old English: cnawan – to perceive a thing to be identical with another.
  2. Middle English: knowen – to perceive, understand, or have knowledge of.
  3. Modern English: know – to be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information.

Throughout the verb know history, multiple forms have emerged to enable speakers to accurately communicate past, present, and future events or states of knowing. The past tense form, “knew,” and the past participle form, “known,” have particularly adapted to their roles in expressing completed actions or states of being that inform the present or future.

In summary, the rich history and evolution of the verb “know” from Old English to Modern English underpin its nuanced usage and distinctive forms, such as “knew” and “known.” This fascinating journey through language development not only strengthens our understanding of the verb’s multifaceted nature but also allows us to appreciate the intricacies and adaptability of the English language.

Clarifying “Knew” vs. “Known” Through Real-Life Examples

The distinction between “knew” and “known” can be understood better by examining real-life usage examples. By doing this, proper application of these verb forms in everyday communication will become clearer. Let’s dive into a few examples to truly grasp their correct use.

When discussing past knowledge, “knew” is used for definitive past situations, such as in the sentence: “I knew that Apple would become successful when the first iPhone was released.” This example clearly highlights knowledge that was present in the past but does not directly affect the present. On the other hand, “known” is used in perfect tenses, which can span different timeframes. These constructions typically require the use of auxiliary verbs, as seen in the sentence: “As someone who has worked in the automotive industry for decades, I have known about the risks of air pollution from cars.”

It is essential to remember that “knew” and “known” serve different purposes and cannot be used interchangeably. Clarifying the distinctions between these two forms by examining real-life examples will help ensure you are using them accurately in everyday communication. Keep these differences in mind and avoid potential misunderstandings or confusion when discussing past knowledge and experiences.

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