‘Knew’ vs ‘New’: What’s the Difference?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on March 7, 2023

The words ‘knew’ and ‘new’ are two words in the English language that sometimes confuse people, even native speakers of the language. But we can clear up the meaning and teach you how to use both words in a sentence correctly. You’ll also learn the correct pronunciation.

Need an answer quickly? Here’s the difference:

  • ‘Knew’ is the past tense of knowing, and it means to have an understanding of or to be familiar with.
  • ‘New’ is an adjective that means recent or modern.

These words have the same pronunciation but different meanings. That means they’re homophones.

‘New’ vs. ‘Knew’ in English 

In the English language, we all come across words that can confuse us when we don’t see them on paper. This is true for homophones, words that sound the same but have different definitions.

‘New’ is an adjective that means recent or modern.

  • For example, someone might tell you they got a new pair of shoes.
  • Or someone might tell you they got a new car.

‘Knew’ is the past tense of the word ‘know,’ and it means to have an understanding of something.

What is the Difference Between ‘New’ and ‘Knew’?

If you’re unfamiliar with these words, you might not know there’s a difference without seeing the words on paper.

But ‘new’ and ‘knew’ are two different words, though they might sound the same.

If you’re talking about something you recently purchased, use ‘new.’

However, if you’re trying to express that you know something in the past tense, use ‘knew.’

Definition of ‘Knew’: What Does ‘Knew’ Mean?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘knew’ as:

  • The past tense of know.

That word means to perceive directly or have an understanding of something.

It also means:

  • To recognize the nature of
  • To be familiar with
  • To have experience of
  • To recognize as being the same as something previously known
  • To be aware of the truth of
  • To have a practical understanding of
  • To have sexual intercourse with
  • To have knowledge

Definition of ‘New’: What Does ‘New' Mean?

The same dictionary defines ‘new’ as:

  • Having recently come into existence, recent and modern.

Other definitions you might see include:

  • Having seen, used, or known for a short time
  • Unfamiliar
  • Being other than the former or old
  • Having been in a relationship or condition but a short time
  • Made or become fresh
  • Relating to or being a new moon
  • Different from one of the same categories that has existed previously
  • Of dissimilar origin and usually of superior quality
  • Newly
  • Recently 

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Knew’ and ‘New’

Are you curious about how to pronounce these words? Here’s a quick guide.

To pronounce both words correctly, use this phonetic spelling:


How to Use ‘Knew’ and ‘New’ in a Sentence

Now that we’ve got a better understanding of the words and their meanings let’s take a look at some example sentences so that you feel comfortable creating your own when the time comes.


  • I knew my niece would come into my room when I went out. That’s exactly why I need a lock for my bedroom door.
  • I knew you would have everything looking amazing for our girls’ night in. I can’t wait until everyone arrives so we can start having even more fun than we had last year.
  • I knew you had the work experience for this job, but I wasn’t sure you would fit in well here. I’m glad that you do – everyone seems to love you!
  • I knew that color wouldn’t look good on me. I should have tried the dress on before I bought it.


  • I just bought a brand-new car, and I love it. It’s a Tesla Model X. Let’s take it for a spin.
  • I transferred to a new university mid-semester because I wanted to be closer to my boyfriend. We just got engaged, so I guess he’s my fiancé.
  • I just bought this new organic nut butter spread my best friend told me to try, and it was delicious. I think I’ll get this more often.
  • I have a new sweater I’ve been meaning to wear, but I have nowhere to wear it. Maybe I’ll wear it to the party I was invited to next week.

Concluding Thoughts on ‘Knew’ and ‘New’

To recap, we learned the following:

  • ‘Knew’ is the past tense of know, which means to have an understanding of or to be familiar with.
  • ‘New’ is an adjective, and it means recent or modern.

Remember, these words have the same pronunciation but different definitions. That makes them homophones.

If you’re ever having trouble with either of these words, you can always come back to go over what you learned. We’ve also got an entire library of content dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases that you should feel free to check out. It’s there when you need it.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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