Do you want to know Canada or Do you want to visit Canada?

El10

Senior Member
Spanish-Colombia
Can I use know to refer to countries ? I thought you could only use know for people.

For example :
Is it Do you want to know Canada, or Do you want to visit Canada?
Is it Do you know China, or have you been to China?
I've been to Sweden,
or I know Sweden.
 
  • Ça y est!

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It's unusual, but yes, you could use know. To me it sounds like a term the country's tourist office would use to promote the country -- meaning you won't just visit the country like a tourist, but you will become intimately familiar with it like a native.
     

    IRAJ2000

    Senior Member
    Persian
    It's unusual, but yes, you could use know. To me it sounds like a term the country's tourist office would use to promote the country -- meaning you won't just visit the country like a tourist, but you will become intimately familiar with it like a native.
    :thumbsdown:It's really strange!
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I agree with Ça y est!

    We use 'know' to mean 'become familiar with' a country. However, I think we are more likely to use 'know' this way when we are talking about a smaller or more unified geography, such as a city, or a geographical region.

    Ted really knows Paris, and he can tell you where to go
    Few people know the desert as well as Sarah does.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Yes, it is. Here are a couple of examples:

    Special Country Report on Seychelles in High Life magazine of British Airways
    Forimmediaterelease.net (press release)-Dec 11, 2014

    “The question is: what does the discerning traveler want? To lie on the beach all day, or do they want more than that? It’s quite clear they want a bit more to go home with, and this is culture: to enjoy the food, the music, the dancing, and to meet the people; this is what gives you the feeling you have got to know the country.”
    (This one is written to promote tourism, the kind of writing Ça y est! mentions.)

    Crocker: US Wingtips and Pumps, Not Boots, Might Have Helped Syria
    GovExec.com-Dec 16, 2014
    The situation “called not for U.S. boots on the ground but a set of wingtips and pumps on the ground, worn by American diplomats who know the country and the language,” said Crocker, a 37-year Foreign Service veteran now teaching at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    You appear to be translating literally from your native Spanish, where "know" is used when you have simply been to a country, El10.

    It doesn't work that way in English -- and it's a common error by those whose native language is Spanish. :eek:
     

    wildan1

    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    Hello El10,

    We do indeed say to get to know a country. To me it signifies that you are experiencing the feeling of a place.

    Wouldn't you like to get to know Canada?

    Maybe that's what corresponds to what you have in mind, if it is for tourism promotion for example.
     

    El10

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Colombia
    Hello El10,

    We do indeed say to get to know a country. To me it signifies that you are experiencing the feeling of a place.

    Wouldn't you like to get to know Canada?

    Maybe that's what corresponds to what you have in mind, if it is for tourism promotion for example.
    Hello, wildan1.

    Yes, what you suggest would be the right question, thanks for including it on the thread. I wanted to make sure that I can use know to mean that I am familiar with a place like a country, a city, a house, etc. In Spanish, we often use "conocer= know" to refer to different kinds of situations without distinction, and it causes confusion when translating from English into Spanish, as sdgraham correctly mentioned. I mean, we use it both for saying that we have visited a place, say for a couple of days or months, etc. and for saying that we are familiar with a place because we have been living there for a reasonable period of time. It's good to realise that we can also use know in English just like in Spanish in certain situations when it refers to getting/being familiar with a country, a city, a house, etc.

    Thank you very much for your suggestion =)
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    This reminds me of a well-known (at least to older people in the U.S.) Judy Collins song. Its refrain goes:

    I've looked at clouds from both sides now
    From up and down and still somehow
    It's cloud's illusions I recall
    I really don't know clouds at all
    (The next two times, "love" and "life" replace "clouds.")

    This use of to know seems quite natural to me. As others have said, it means deeper familiarity than just having been to a place. In that sense it is different from knowing a person, which can mean you have met that person once. I might say that I know Vermont, since I have a son who lived there for ten years and I visited him frequently, but I don't know Maine nearly as well even though I've been there many times.
     
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