Archive for March 25, 2010

the difference between words: find out and know


Earlier, one of my students asked me what the difference is between “find out” and “know”, so I think that would be a good topic for today’s blog entry.

In English, we often have a separate word or expression to talk about the beginning of a situation. For example, first we PUT ON our clothes and then we WEAR them; first we GET a cold and then we HAVE the cold.

Another example of this is “find out” and “know”. First, we FIND OUT some information, and then we KNOW it. So when we talk about the first moment that we learn some information, we must use “find out”, but we can’t use “know” until afterwards. For example:

I found out about the terrorist attack when I watched the news report on TV. I was so shocked!

I knew about the terrorist attack before I watched the news because my friend had told me about it before.

Did you know that ABC Department Store is having a sale this weekend? I just found out today.

A: Did you know that Rachel is going to have a baby?

B: Yes, I know.

A: When did you find out?

B: I found out yesterday when Rachel’s husband told me.

As you can see from the examples, when we use “find out” we usually will say when we received the information. If we don’t say when we received it, the sentence will sound a little strange.

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