Cambridge Dictionary gives these definitions and examples about "familiar"

easy to recognize because of being seen before

The street was familiar to me.

to know something or someone well

I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with your poetry.

In the following context, which one should I use?

British English is familiar to Chinese kids, since they are taught in school with British English.


Chinese kids are familiar with British English, since they are taught in school with British English.

Could someone please give a hint? Thanks in advance.

  • Use whichever sentence you wish; both are grammatical. Apr 25, 2020 at 15:34

2 Answers 2


it depends on whether you are talking about the object or experience, or the person experiencing it:

The street was familiar to me <=> I was familiar with the street.

Your poetry is not familiar to me <=> I am not familiar with your poetry.

  • Thanks for you answer. In the example of British English, both sentences are grammatically correct and mean the same thing, right?
    – WXJ96163
    Apr 25, 2020 at 13:58
  • They're both grammatically correct, and mean pretty much the same thing. I wouldn't say they're precisely the same, because one is a statement about my knowledge, and the other about the object in my knowledge.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 25, 2020 at 14:57

Both are grammatically correct. I think familiar with is used actively while familiar to is used passively. He is familiar with me. I am familiar to him

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  • This also doesn't really add anything new to the existing answer.
    – Joachim
    Apr 11, 2023 at 8:37

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