Although reconocer often has the same meaning as its English cognate, "recognize," it has a slightly larger range of meanings.
Reconocer, obviously derived form the verb conocer, which typically means "to know," carries with it the concept of knowing something that has been previously known. Following are the most common ways in which it is used; note that often, but not always, it can be translated as "recognize" even if that isn't the verb used in the sample translations used in this lesson.
To admit or to acknowledge: Although the verb when used this way can refer to a mistake or misdeed, it doesn't have to. Some examples:
- El director reconoció el error administrativo. The director admitted the administrative error.
- Reconozco que estoy equivocado. I admit I'm mistaken.
- El alcalde reconoció que hay que tomar medidas urgentes. The mayor acknowledged that it is necessary to take urgent steps.
- Reconocemos que no somos perfectos. We admit that we aren't perfect.
- Tenemos que reconocer que son diferentes de nosotros. We have to acknowledge that they are different than we are.
- Reconozco que esta receta tiene demasiadas calorías. I acknowledge that this recipe has too many calories.
To give formal or legal recognition to:
- La capital de Estados Unidos reconoce los matrimonios gays. The U.S. capital recognizes gay marriages.
- España no reconocía la independencia de las colonias. Spain did not recognize the independence of the colonies.
- Los manifestantes no reconocían la autoridad israelí. The protesters did not recognize Israeli authority.
To identify someone or something by his/her/its qualities: As with the English "recognize," the word can refer to recognition of something or someone known previously.
- Reconocí la ciudad en cuanto la vi. I recognized the city as soon as I saw it.
- Le reconocí por su altura y sus cabellos dorados ondulados. I recognized him by his height and wavy, golden hair.
- Nos reconocimos en seguida. We recognized each other right away.
- Reconocieron el uniforme de sargento y adoptaron un tono más respetuoso. They recognized the sergeant's uniform and adopted a more respectful tone.
To mean "to reconnoiter": An example: En días siguientes dos hombres de Pizarro reconocieron el territorio. In the following days, two of Pizarro's men reconnoitered the territory.
Conjugation: Keep in mind that reconocer follows the conjugation pattern of conocer.