Here the word of know has the meaning of "recognize":

I couldn't see who was speaking, but I knew the voice.

She knows a bargain when she sees one.

But I think the bold know here is static and cannot be replaced with recognize.

I guess know here could be replaced with be able to recognize. Am I right?

  • How come bargain as a noun fits here. Is the sentence structured properly? – Maulik V Mar 30 '14 at 10:40
  • @MaulikV - bargain in this context means a good deal: Paper towels were on sale yesterday, so I bought 12 rolls. What a bargain! – J.R. Mar 30 '14 at 10:42
  • Your sentence is clear. It gives context of paper towel but in that sentence what she sees? What she knows? A bargain? Sorry. I'm operating through a smartphone so there will be typos and weird things. – Maulik V Mar 30 '14 at 10:47
  • @Maulik - What she sees would be context dependent. She knows a good bargain when she sees one – if we are talking about a real estate agent, we might be talking about a low price on a good piece of property. If we're referring to an antique dealer, she knows when she's paying less than market value for a high-quality, coveted item. Although the words might make one curious about further context, the sentence still stands on its own. – J.R. Mar 30 '14 at 10:55
  • Both are from OALD. @Maulik V oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/know_1 – Kinzle B Mar 30 '14 at 11:01

You are quite right that know in its primary sense has a stative lexical aspect—it expresses an enduring state, without defined beginning or end—while recognize is an achievement verb, with telic, non-durative aspect.

You should be aware, however, that almost any English verb can be ‘recategorized’ to meet the needs of a particular utterance. For instance, as we have discussed elsewhere on ELL, a stative verb may be recategorized as an activity verb by casting it into the progressive mode.

Likewise, stative verbs are often employed with inchoative aspect, in which they express not the existence but the onset of a state. That is the case with your two uses of know: they express the entry into a state of knowing—which happens also to be the meaning of recognize.

For a similar inchoative use of a stative, consider the verb love. Ordinarily we express the inchoative sense of love with the phrase fall in love; but in one of the most famous lines in English poetry (Shakespeare himself quoted it), bare love is used in both stative and inchoative senses:

Whoever loved that loved not at first sight?
     stative  inchoative

Note, too, that the opposite is also true: the achievement verb recognize has a common secondary sense in which it has stative aspect:

The United Nations recognizes the family as the basic unit of society.

  • Maybe there is another dichotemy: the state will last after entry into that state or the state will soon vanish after entry into that state. know belongs to the former while recognize belongs to the latter. – Kinzle B Mar 30 '14 at 12:47
  • @ZhanlongZheng Not really: within the bounds of any discourse, it is tacitly assumed that a state endures until it is explicitly ended. The difference is that recognize and inchoative know are 'eventive', marking a change of state: both mean that you enter into a state of 'knowing' him, and that endures. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 30 '14 at 12:54
  • An idea suddenly occurs to me. Is it equivalent to use present continuous form in these know or recognize examples? @StoneyB – Kinzle B Mar 30 '14 at 13:31
  • @ZhanlongZheng No. Continuous/progressive constructions recategorize statives as activities (see the 'elsewhere on ELL' link above). In some respects activities and states have similar syntactic properties, which is why some linguists call the progressive a 'stativizer'. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 30 '14 at 13:41

In the sentence:

She knows a good bargain when she sees one.

I think the word know is being used with more "depth" than mere "recognition." The sentence as a whole suggests a degree of familiarity – this is a seasoned shopper who is very acquainted with the marketplace, who understands the tricks of the trade. She seldom overpays for anything, and often gets very good deals on what she buys.

I looked up know in NOAD, and found several meanings. I'll put a few here – the ones I think can apply to the sentence you provided:

  • be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information
  • be familiar or acquainted with (something)
  • recognize (someone or something)
  • be able to distinguish thing from (another)

Yes, I could say:

She recognizes a good bargain when she sees one.

but I don't think that's quite as good. The sentence loses a certain nuance of familiarity with that substitution.

  • In your example, is recognize a dynamic verb? And in my example, is know a static verb? – Kinzle B Mar 30 '14 at 11:17
  • @Zhan – That's more of an ELU question. :^) Based on this, I'd agree: Dynamic verbs can be used in the simple and perfect forms (plays, played, has played, had played) as well as the continuous or progressive forms (is playing, was playing, has been playing). We CANNOT use static verbs in the continuous (progressive) forms; you CAN'T say "Yong is owning three cars." Based on that, I think She is recognizing a good bargain every day seems more acceptable than She is knowing a good bargain every day – but I'm not 100% sure. – J.R. Mar 30 '14 at 11:48
  • I think I can interpret it this way - I recognize who has a certain feature, and I know that guy as well. – Kinzle B Mar 30 '14 at 12:38

rec·og·nize (rĕk′əg-nīz′) tr.v. rec·og·nized, rec·og·niz·ing, rec·og·niz·es 1. To know to be something that has been perceived before: recognize a face. 2. To know or identify from past experience or knowledge: recognize hostility. 3. To perceive or show acceptance of the validity or reality of: recognizes the concerns of the tenants. Collins Dictionary

Actually they can be used as synonyms... Even though I agree that in the two sentences I would replace "know", with "can recognize".

  • 1
    Although I know James I couldn't recognize him. How would you interchange them here? They are not same. – Maulik V Mar 30 '14 at 10:44
  • for instance, you mean you two only chat online? so you can't recognize him. @Maulik V – Kinzle B Mar 30 '14 at 11:07
  • 2
    I wrote that "they can be used as synonyms" (not that they are outright synonyms) referring to the sentences stated by the OP. – user5267 Mar 30 '14 at 11:26
  • @ZhanlongZheng not necessary. ah. The man in red is not Michael for sure. I know him – Maulik V Mar 30 '14 at 13:30
  • Can I say I know James but I can't recognize his voice when I meet him? @Maulik V – Kinzle B Mar 30 '14 at 13:40

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