New or Knew – What’s the Difference?

If two or more words sound the same when spoken out loud, but have different meanings, they are called homophones. Be careful not to confuse homophones with homographs, which also have different meanings but, instead, share a common spelling.

Knew and new are two homophones that give many writers trouble. They are pronounced the same, since the K in knew is silent. Nonetheless, they mean different things, and are actually completely different parts of speech.

If you have ever been confused about whether you really mean knew or new, you aren’t alone. This article will serve as a helpful guide for the appropriate situations in which to choose each of these words.

What is the Difference Between New and Knew?

In this post, I will compare new vs. knew. I will use each word in an example sentence to illustrate its proper use and context.

Plus, I will provide a mnemonic that you can use to help you decide whether you should use new or knew in your own writing.

When to Use New

new versus knewWhat does new mean? New is an adjective. It means fresh or unused. It is an antonym of old.

Here are some example sentences,

  • Jameson got to the gym before basketball practice started, so he could stretch and lace up his new shoes.
  • Julianna’s new computer is shiny and expensive.
  • This new policy supersedes the old one from last year.
  • One thing that struck us this year is the growing importance of software. You won’t necessarily need to buy a new phone, TV, watch or speaker to bring the advances of AI into your home. –The Wall Street Journal

When to Use Knew

define knew define hopping defineWhat does knew mean? Knew is the past tense form of the verb know, which means to be aware of something or to understand something.

It can be used in the following ways,

  • “I knew the judge was the murderer before I even finished the book!” said Carol.
  • Jameson knew that if he did not practice, he would not become a basketball superstar.
  • Queen Samantha knew the boys wanted to marry her, but her only true love was power.
  • They began to email and text a bit. “There was banter,” Ms. Kerr said, but neither knew the interest or intention of the other. –The New York Times

Trick to Remember the Difference

Definition of knew definition and definition of new definitionThe choice between these words is simple. If the word you are using is a verb, you should choose knew. If, on the other hand, you are looking for an adjective, new is the only option.

Here is a helpful trick to remember knew vs. new. Remember that the verb knew starts with the same letters as knowledge, both of which are related.


Is it new or knew? The words knew and new are homophones, which means they sound alike but mean different things. It’s important not to mix them up because they are actually different parts of speech.

  • New is an adjective that means unused.
  • Knew is the past tense form of the verb know, which means to understand or to be aware of

If you are having trouble using these words correctly, remember that knew is a verb and has to do with knowledge. Since both of these words start with the same two letters, you can link them together in your mind.

In summary,

  • New is an adjective.
  • Knew is a past tense verb.
  • They are never interchangeable.

You can avoid confusing these words—and other common mistakes—by checking this website when you have questions about any writing or usage topics.