‘Already Know' or 'Already Knew': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on November 21, 2023

Are you curious about the difference between 'already know' and 'already knew?' This guide will help!

If you are short on time, here is a quick overview: 

  • 'Already know' is a present tense phrase that means someone is already familiar with an idea or concept. 
  • 'Already knew' uses the past tense form of 'know' to indicate that someone had prior knowledge of something. 

The short answer above will help you determine which of these phrases you need to use. However, there is much more to learn. So, keep reading!

What is the Difference Between 'Already Know' and 'Already Knew?'

Both of these phrases mean the same thing, but you use the former when you are writing in the present tense and the second when you are writing in the past tense.

So, if I am saying that someone was aware of something before the present, you would use 'already knew.' If you are saying that someone is aware of something in the present, you say 'already know.'

How and When to Use 'Already Know' vs. 'Already Knew'

You know the difference between these terms now. But you may still be wondering how and when to use each phrase. So, here are some tips.

  • Use 'already know' when someone knows something currently.

For example, you can say:

I am not going to tell you because you already know the answer to the question I asked.

  • Use 'already knew' to indicate that someone knew something before the present.

As an example, I might say:

You already knew the answer before I finished reading the question. 

  • Use 'already know' when you are referring to something you are aware of before someone asks or makes a request.

For example, you could say:

I already know what you are going to ask, and the answer is 'No!'

  • Use 'already knew' to indicate that you were aware of something before someone asked.

As an example, you can say:

I already knew what he was going to ask when he called, so I didn't answer the phone.

Definition of 'Already Know': What Does 'Already Know' Mean?

To gain a better understanding of the meaning of the term 'already know,' we are going to look at the words the phrase contains.

Definition of 'Already'

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 'already' is an adverb defined as:

  • Before an implied or specified time (past, present, or future)
  • A word used as an intensive in phrases like, 'Quit it already!'

Definition of 'Know'

The same resource defines 'know' as a verb that means:

  • To perceive directly or have cognition of something

It can also mean:

  • To have an understanding of something
  • To be familiar with someone or something
  • To have an awareness of a concept or idea
  • To have experience doing something
  • To have an awareness of the factuality or truth of something
  • To be familiar or acquainted with someone or something
  • To have applicable experience or understanding of something
  • To have sexual relations with someone or have experience with someone sexually
  • To become or be cognizant of something

 Synonyms and Similar Words to 'Know'

  • Understand
  • Comprehend
  • Posses
  • Apprehend
  • Appreciate
  • Follow
  • Ken
  • Cognize
  • Fathom
  • Savvy
  • Pick up
  • Learn
  • Familiarize
  • Acquaint
  • Familiarize

Definition of 'Already Knew': What Does 'Already Knew' Mean?

We already looked at the meaning of 'already.' So, we will look at the meaning of 'knew' to gain a better understanding of the definition of the phrase above.

Definition of 'Knew'

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines 'knew' as:

 Synonyms and Similar Words to 'Knew'

  • Understood
  • Appreciated
  • Comprehended
  • Grasped
  • Perceived
  • Possessed
  • Followed
  • Apprehended
  • Had
  • Saavvied
  • Picked Up
  • Cognized
  • Kenned

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Already Know' or 'Already Knew'

Now, let's look at the pronunciation of these terms. Learning pronunciation helps you gain confidence in your verbal communication.

So, here is a pronunciation guide you can reference.  

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'already know':

all-re-dē nō

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'already knew':

all-re-dē nü

Sample Sentences Using 'Already Know' and 'Already Knew'

Read the sample sentences below using these terms to ensure that you know and remember how to use them.

Already Know

  • I do not know why I have to take this training again. I already know how to do it.
  • If you already know how to do it, I do not need to explain it to you again.
  • I already know my class schedule for next semester.
  • You probably already know what I am going to ask, but I am going to ask you anyway.
  • You already know the answer, so why do you ask?
  • I already know your favorite song, color, and food.

Already Knew

  • He already knew his enemies' plans.
  • We already knew that he was coming to town.
  • She already knew her boyfriend was going to propose, but she acted surprised.
  • The couple already knew they wanted to adopt a child, but they were unsure how they would adapt.
  • If she already knew we couldn't get in, why did we drive all the way there?
  • I already knew that something bad was going to happen, which is why I told you to be careful on vacation.
  • He looked shocked when I told him I already knew his best friend.

Review of the Difference Between 'Already Know' and 'Already Knew'

We went over a ton of information in this post. So, here is a recap of what you learned about the difference between 'already know' and 'already knew': 

  • 'Already know' is a present tense phrase used to say that someone knew something before the present. 
  • 'Already knew' is a past tense phrase used to say that someone was aware of something before an event that occurred in the past. 

There are hundreds of commonly misused, misspelled, mispronounced, and mistaken words like these in the English language. So, if you ever need to verify the meaning or usage of a term, you can always visit the confusing words section here.

In addition to being a useful tool for verifying the meanings of words, each guide provides valuable information, like definitions, grammar tips, examples, and usage suggestions.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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