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

The past tense comes in two different forms in English. We have the simple past tense, and the past participle and irregular verbs can cause complications if you don’t know much about them. This article will look into the past tense of “know” and how it works.

Knew or Known: Which Is Correct?

“Knew” is the simple past tense of the verb “to know.” We use it when someone has known something in the past. “Known” is the past participle of “to know,” which we use alongside auxiliary verbs like “have” to turn into one of the three possible perfect tenses.

Knew or Known: Which Is Correct?

While you might not be too sure about what a perfect tense is, you can still look at the following examples to see how “knew” and “known” work differently.

  • I knew a lot about him before he arrived.
  • I have known you would be coming here for a long time.

“Knew” is the simple past tense and is “simple” to use. We don’t need any other words or verbs to use it.

“Known,” on the other hand, is the past participle, which requires the auxiliary verb “have.” In this case, “have known” is the present perfect tense, used to talk about knowing something in the past and continuing to do so in the present.

VerbKnow
PastKnew
Past ParticipleKnown
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When Is “Knew” Correct?

“Knew” is the easiest of the two verb forms to remember, so we’ll start with that.

“Knew” is correct in the simple past tense. We use it when talking about something that someone knew in the past. There is no more interaction with that thing in the future, as the event has already happened.

It couldn’t be simpler to use the past tense in this way. We simply include a pronoun before “knew” to write about who it was that “knew” something.

Example Sentences Using “Knew”

To show you how it looks, you can check out these examples:

  1. I knew you were going to be here!
  2. She knew all about the things I did, and I’m not proud of them.
  3. We knew you’d like the gifts we bought you!
  4. They knew I wouldn’t be able to turn them away if they ambushed me with their questions!
  5. He knew that I hated it, but he still did it anyway.
  6. You knew about all of this, and you didn’t tell me!

The simple past tense refers to something that happened in the past and is no longer happening in the present. “Knew” refers to something that someone was informed on and interacted with that information in some way previously.

When Is “Known” Correct?

“Known” is much more complicated because it’s the past participle. Any participle in English gets tricky to use if you’re not careful, especially those that come from irregular verbs like “know.”

“Known” is the past participle of “to know” and uses an auxiliary verb like “have” to turn it into the perfect tense. There are three perfect tenses; past, present, and future. Each tense changes the sentence and what has occurred in it, and it’s important to know what they do.

To help you understand the auxiliary verbs we use, we can break them down for you. It’s almost always the same, so you can see it in the following ways:

  • Past perfect: Had known
  • Present perfect: Have known
  • Future perfect: Will have known

The past perfect tense isn’t very common, but we use “had” when it occurs. It talks about things that have happened in the past but might still have an effect on things in the present.

The present perfect tense is the most common choice with “have” as the auxiliary. It refers to something that started previously but continues to happen in the present in some way.

The future perfect is also uncommon, and “will have” are the two auxiliary verbs we use here. We often use it to create future situations that may happen based on the actions we take in the present.

Example sentences using “Known”

Some examples will help to explain each tense. We’ll split them into sections to make them easier to understand.

Past Perfect

  1. I had known about his plans all through the summer, but I dared not do anything to stop him.
  2. We had known that you were going to try something foolish the minute you stepped through those doors.

“Had known” is the past perfect tense. We use it to refer to something we knew about in the past and something that might still have consequences in some manner in the present.

Present Perfect

  1. I have known about you for a long time, and I’m glad we finally get a chance to meet.
  2. They have known where to find you if they needed to, and it looks like now’s the time.

“Have known” is the present perfect tense. We use it to talk about someone knowing something in the past and acting on the knowledge in some way in the present (or continuing to hold the knowledge in the future).

Future Perfect

  1. We will have known each other for thirty years tomorrow!
  2. You would have known what I was talking about if you had just paid attention!

“Will have” and “would have” are the future perfect tenses. We use them to talk about things in the present and how they will impact something happening in the future. It’s common to use “if” clauses with the future perfect tense to set up hypothetical situations.

“Have Knew” Vs. “Have Known”

“Have known” is the correct variation to use because “known” is the past participle. It requires an auxiliary verb to turn it into the perfect tense, and without it, it makes no sense. “Have knew” is incorrect because the simple past tense “knew” needs no auxiliary verb.

Final Thoughts

“Knew” is easy to use because it requires no auxiliary or helping verbs. It’s the simple past tense. “Known” is a little trickier, as the perfect tenses depend heavily on the correct auxiliary verb to use them. Once you understand the three tenses, you’ll have a better time with “known.”

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