The difference between “知道(zhīdào)” and “认识(rènshi)”

Correct Answer: A

In the Chinese language, both “知道(zhīdào)” and “认识(rènshi)” can be used to indicate “to know.” However, they are actually used to express quite different meanings, especially in the two situations below.

Situation 1:

“知道(zhīdào)” someone ≠ “认识(rènshi)” someone

“知道(zhīdào)” someone means that you know of a person, that you are generally aware of his or her name, appearance, status and some other basic details, but you have not met in-person. “认识(rènshi)” represents a higher degree than “知道(zhīdào)”, which implies that both sides are acquainted with each other and have actually met.


A: Nǐzhīdào zúqiú míngxīng David Beckham ma?
A: 你 知道  足球   明星       David Beckham 吗?
A: Do you know the football star David Beckham?

B:我知道 他!
B:I know him!

Hěn gāoxìngrènshinǐ!
很    高兴认识你!
Nice to meet you.

rènshiLinda, tā shì wǒde dàxué tóngxué.
认识Linda,  她 是   我的  大学    同学。
I’m acquainted with Linda. She is my university classmate.

Situation 2:

“知道(zhīdào)” something ≠ “认识(rènshi)” something

In Chinese, to “知道(zhīdào)” something means you already know about a fact, an object, a thing, a piece of news, a certain place, etc. To “认识(rènshi)” something implies a level of understanding that goes beyond “知道(zhīdào)”, indicating that you are deeply familiar with something. Besides, “认识(rènshi)” also has the meaning of realizing or recognizing.


zhīdàoLǐ Méi de dìzhǐ ma?
知道李 梅   的 地址  吗?
Do you know Li Mei’s address?

Wǒ bùzhīdàozhège xiāoxi.
我   不知道这个    消息。
I don’t know the news.

rènshizhège hànzì.
认识这个    汉字。
I am familiar with this character.

Betty méiyǒurènshi dào tāde cuòwù.
Betty 没有认识到   她的  错误。
Betty didn’t realize her mistakes.

To recap, as in the test at the start, just because you “知道(zhīdào), to know” someone, doesn’t necessarily mean you “认识(rènshi), be acquainted with” him or her. However, if you “认识(rènshi), be acquainted with” him or her, you certainly must “知道(zhīdào), to know” him or her. So, the answer is A.

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General Chinese (Beginner Level)
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