1. rivereridanus Senior Member

    English-United States
    Hi all,
    I had learned that "yo sabía" was the correct way to say, "I knew", because "supe" had a different meaning such as "I found out" or "I realized." However, recently I have come across instances such as this,

    "quiero que tú sepas que tú no eres para mí,
    ....siempre supe pero no hice caso"

    How does this differ from "siempre sabía"? Are there contextual or connotative differences?

    Thanks for your help!
  2. obz

    obz Senior Member

    Los foros de WR.
    Yankee English
    Because it sums up a closed past that both speakers are familiar with (siempre).
    It happens with most all verbs. You're very right about "sabía" being more common, especially since the context you cite is less common.

    Notice that he says "pero no hice caso", this is also in the preterit due to the closure and finiteness of the time they are referring to.

    Or, this is how I understand it.

    2 friends who grew up together, and havent seen each other in years, meet again, and something happens to reveal the character of one, the other might say "siempre fuiste así"... even though if you and I did something yesterday, you might say "eras un cabron cuando estabamos en el bar"

    I would love to know "where" this line between the 2 gets drawn precisely, but it's definitely something you'll see used for remote past - closed time lines.
  3. ChocolateLover Senior Member


    "Supe" means "I knew" (focusing on the beginning or the end) and "sabía" means I knew (the duration of the action). Me enteré de que/supe que.../descubrí que...=I found out that...
    Ya sabía que...=I already knew that....

    It just happens that when you are focusing on the beginning of "supe" it means "I found out" in English, but it doesn't have anything to do with the Spanish system; it is just sometimes translated that way into English.

    Nunca supe que...=I never knew that/found out that...
    Siempre supo que...=He/she always knew that...(focusing on the beginning or end; perhaps the person passed away)
    Siempre he sabido que...=I have always known that...
    Siempre sabía...=I always knew/used to know (focusing on the duration)

    Check out this cite for more imformation about supe/sabía, podía/pude, quería/quise. They do not change meanings like most textbooks say they do :( It is based on the English translation.


    I don't think it is based off of the time difference, but rather what you want to convey. For example, in English and in Spanish one can say "Two seconds ago/50 years ago" I was thinking...=Hace dos segundos/50 años pensaba que...(duration)
    "Two seconds/50 years ago" I thought...=Hace dos segundos/50 años pensé que...(beginning/ending)

    I hope this helps

    A ver lo que dicen los nativos

    Last edited: Apr 15, 2010
  4. kevf New Member

    Español - Castellano
    "Supe" , means, " i knew" but this only can be used for an action in past, that means that the situation (now) is already over.
    For example: "i don't know what their deal was" trl: No "supe" cual era su problema. Also and only for this example; you can switch "era" por "fue". And it sounds better.
    With "sabía" trl: No "sabía" cual era su problema. > It's okay but sounds a bit confused. Why? because, "sabía" also means that in the past didn't know the answer, but in present you know the answer, it's like you've already solved the question... anyway you could use if you know the answer at present.
    Another fact: En Castellano, "supe" se puede para ambos tiempos (pasado y presente); pero en Españo solo en pasado, porque "sabía" suena mejor en presente que "supe".
    ja ne
  5. Yacamaca Senior Member

    So would this be correct?:

    "no supe que responder" (in that moment and not later either)
    "no sabia que responder" (more general, in that moment, but later I maybe not came up with an answer, or maybe not either)
  6. chacahua Senior Member

    Midwestern American English
    "No sabía cómo responder (o "No sabía qué decir.") In most situations this would be what you were trying to say, because you are going back to that ongoing state of being during the time when you didn't know how to respond.

    If, however, you're talking about some fixed period in the past, then you could maybe use supe. For example,

    They asked me that question 100 times when I was younger, but I never knew how to respond.
    Me hicieron esa pregunta 100 veces cuando era más* chico, pero nunca supe cómo responder.​

    But if you're going back to some specific moment at which you didn't know how to respond, then you are sort of revisiting your state of being during that time, so that it becomes an ongoing state. Because of this, the imperfect is the natural choice. Since this is the most frequent case, way more often than not you'll hear ...no sabía cómo responder.

    There are a lot of WR members who know more about this than I do. Maybe one or more will make this more clear for both of us.

    *Me informaron que no se usa "más chico" de esta manera.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2012
  7. kevf New Member

    Español - Castellano
    EXACTLY! . just one thing to put it clear. ammm,how could i explain it?; ok i put this way..
    "no supe que responder" (in that moment and not later either) + end of the dilemma and move on to another dialog.
    For example:
    A: "Me hicieron esa misma pregunta en clase de álgebra y no supe que responder."
    B: "Ok; entonces déjame enseñarte como resolver esa pregunta."
    A: por cierto, ¿sabes que hora es?...
    B: Son las.. bla bla bla...

    Exactly, it's more like when you're talking about a "fixed past" and also that's another good example of how really sounds supe.

    ja ne ​
  8. Linton

    Linton Senior Member

    "Cuando era chico", o "cuando era joven", "o cuando era niño", o "de niño". En tales casos rara vez se dice "cuando era más chico" ;)

  9. Yacamaca Senior Member

    Thanx to all for your help!! It really helped me!
  10. chacahua Senior Member

    Midwestern American English
    Muchísimas gracias, Linton. Me encanta que me corrijan.
  11. chacahua Senior Member

    Midwestern American English
    Noto que dice kevf que está bien dicho la parte de que responder en la oración "No supe que responder." ¿Es cierto que es este tipo de que - o sea el pronombre relativo? ¿O debe ser el pronombre interrogativo, así: qué​ ?
  12. Agró

    Agró Senior Member

    Alta Navarra
    "No supe qué responder.":tick:
  13. chacahua Senior Member

    Midwestern American English
    Gracias, Agró - ¡ya me siento mejor!

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