Is there any difference between "to know" and "to know about" when they refer to an abstract thing? Examples:

  • I know (about) this difficulty/problem.
  • I know (about) Engineering.

In the first sentence, it seems to me that "to know" expresses that the speaker experienced the problem/difficulty before while "to know about" only expresses that the speaker has heard or read about it. In the second sentence, it seems to me that "to know" expresses a deeper knowledge than "to know about". Are those impressions correct?

This is NOT a duplicate of ""Know about" vs. "know of"", which focus only on "to know about" and "to know of".


I know about electrical engineering -- I've read about it a few times and know more or less what it is.

I know electrical engineering -- I have a degree in the subject and know how to do engineering stuff.

I know about his pain -- I've seen him limp and I've heard him complain.

I know his pain -- I have similar pains myself and know what he's going through.


To know is when the knowing is of the person talking.

To know about is external; it has happened to someone/thing else.

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