The Spanish verb “creer” means “to believe”, or in some cases, “to think”. Let’s practice Creer and all of its essential conjugations.
¡No lo puedo creer!
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Today we’re going to learn the Spanish verb for “to believe”, so that we can learn how to say things like “I believe in you” and “I don’t believe that really happened”.
The verb is Creer, which is spelled c-r-e-e-r. So for example:
I can’t believe it!
¡No lo puedo creer!
The participle is creído, with an accent mark on the I. See if you can predict the Spanish for this next example:
They haven’t believed those things.
No han creído esas cosas.
The verb Creer is conjugated almost exactly like Deber, but it’s a little bit tricky. Remember that in Deber, the only part of the verb that changes is the part after the letter B; for example, for “I must”, deber changes to debo. The O at the end replaces the E-R in Deber. Well, for Creer, the infinitive ends with E-E-R, but we only replace the final E-R when we conjugate it. So for example, the word for “I believe” is creo, spelled c-r-e-o. Once again the O replaces the final E-R, just like in Deber.
Here’s an example:
Yes, I believe it.
Sí, lo creo.
The word for he/she/usted believes is cree, which is just like creer but without the R at the end. It’s spelled with two Es, even though when you hear it spoken it sounds like there’s just one E. Here’s an example:
She believes it.
Ella lo cree.
The other forms also have two Es in them: crees, creen, and creemos. Here’s an example:
We believe what they believe.
Nosotros creemos lo que ellos creen.
This verb is often paired with the preposition en when you’re talking about what you believe “in”. For example:
Do you believe in me?
¿Crees en mí?
Let’s practice all the present-tense forms of Creer.
I believe in my friends.
Creo en mis amigos.
He doesn’t believe in those things.
Él no cree en esas cosas.
They believe you when you tell the truth.
Te creen cuando dices la verdad.
In reality, you don’t believe in me.
En realidad, no crees en mí.
I believe that they have the list.
Creo que tienen la lista.
We believe you.
In that last case, what we’re believing is not a fact, but a person. Specifically, we’re believing that what they’re saying is true, but as shorthand we say “we believe you”. In cases like these, Spanish tends to use indirect objects, such as le. Here’s another example:
I don’t believe them.
No les creo.
Try it yourself in this next one:
Wait, you really believe her?
Espera, ¿de verdad le crees?
All right, now let’s talk about another way that Creer is translated. In one of our examples, the English says “I believe that they have the list.” But very often in English, we phrase this a different way: “I think that they have the list.” This is very often how Creer is translated. But be careful: There’s actually another Verb for “to think”, which refers specifically to the action of thinking or to refer to what you’re thinking about. We’ll learn that verb tomorrow. You’ll use this verb, Creer, only when it’s a synonym for “to believe”. For example, check out this sentence:
I think about this problem a lot.
This sentence would not use Creer, because you couldn’t say “believe” here. But you would use Creer in this next sentence:
I think she’s not present.
Creo que no está.
There’s another complicated factor to using Creer. When you don’t believe something is the case, you use a subjunctive in the thing you don’t think is true. We’ve actually been practicing this already when we talk about not being sure of something. Compare the following two sentences:
I’m not sure(f) that he’s present.
No estoy segura de que esté.
I don’t think that he’s present.
No creo que esté.
However, you only do this if you specifically say that someone doesn’t think something. That’s different from saying that you think something isn’t the case. So compare these two sentences:
I don’t think she’s present.
No creo que ella esté.
I think she’s not present.
Creo que ella no está.
So in the first case, we use the subjunctive because we said “I don’t think”. But in the second case, we just said “I think”, so the phrase after que isn’t subjunctive. In other words, this comes down to whether the no occurs before or after the creo que.
Let’s practice this a little bit.
You think that she won’t tell you those things.
Crees que no te dirá esas cosas.
They don’t think that she’ll be here soon.
No creen que esté aquí pronto.
I don’t think this is a good idea.
No creo que sea una buena idea.
We believe that we shouldn’t do it.
Creemos que no deberíamos hacerlo.
I think you don’t have to be here.
Creo que no tienes que estar aquí.
They don’t believe that we can do it at all well.
No creen que podamos hacerlo nada bien.
All right, now check out this past-tense sentence:
I thought that you weren’t here yet.
Creía que no estabas aquí todavía.
Here we used the imperfect form creía. It’s the counterpart to the imperfect form of Deber debía. Creer very often uses the imperfect tense. Other imperfect forms are creías, creían, and creíamos.
Let’s practice these.
He used to believe in those things.
Él creía en esas cosas.
They didn’t believe in what their mom was saying.
No creían en lo que su mamá decía.
I believed I had to do that to be well.
Yo creía que tenía que hacer eso para estar bien.
You used to believe in those.
Creías en esos.
We didn’t believe it was possible.
No creíamos que fuera posible.
(Formal) You didn't believe me.
Usted no me creía.
I believe you will never do it in the same way.
Creo que jamás lo harás igual.
Now, Creer also uses the preterite forms pretty often. You’re likely to use these if believing something happened as an event. For example:
At that moment I thought she was my mother.
En ese momento creí que era mi madre.
Notice that this sentence uses both a preterite and an imperfect; the preterite refers to the moment that the speaker believed something, but what she believed (the idea that someone was her mother) would have been true all along, so we use era.
The preterite forms of Creer are a little bit trickier than all the other forms. And that’s because of this whole double-E thing in the verb.
Remember that to say “I must” in the preterite past, we turn deber into debí, replacing the final E-R with the accented I. So that’s what we’ve done to say “I believed”: We turn creer into creí. Simple enough.
But what about “she believed” or “he believed”, as a one-time event? The third-person singular preterite form for Deber is debió, where the E-R at the end turned into I-O, with an accent on the O. Let’s try this with Creer: We end up with c-r-e-i-o “creió”. Well, that’s almost right. The thing is, in Spanish, putting three vowels together like this, e-i-o-, is a bit odd. So what we’ll do is we’ll actually replace the I with a Y. So what we have is creyó. Here’s a sentence example:
She thought she was at the other party.
Ella creyó que estaba en la otra fiesta.
Something similar happens with the word for “they believed”. Instead of “creieron”, with the I in the middle, it’s creyeron, with a Y. For example:
They thought he left, but he was still there.
Creyeron que se fue, pero aún estaba ahí.
So creyó and creyeron are a tiny bit different from usual, with that Y replacing the I, but the rest of the forms use the same letters we’re used to. “I believed” is creí, the informal “you believed” is creíste, and “we believed” is creímos. The only thing different from usual is that these forms get spelled with an accent mark. That’s for technical reasons, to make sure they’re pronounced as creíste and creímos rather than “CRE-iste” and “CRE-imos”.
Let’s practice all of these preterite forms.
I didn’t believe you that time.
No te creí esa vez.
You believed them when they told you that.
Les creíste cuando te dijeron eso.
They believed she had gone beyond that place.
Creyeron que había ido más allá de ese lugar.
We didn’t believe it.
No lo creímos.
He thought he could do it.
Creyó que podía hacerlo.
Next let’s practice the subjunctives, which are crea, creas, crean, and creamos. For example:
I want you to believe me.
Quiero que me creas.
They want us to believe them.
Quieren que les creamos.
Let’s practice these.
He wants me to believe in him.
Quiere que crea en él.
I’ll tell you it just before you believe me.
Te lo diré justo antes de que me creas.
She hopes they believe in her.
Espera que ellos crean en ella.
I don’t think he believes it.
No creo que él lo crea.
She wants us to believe what she says.
Quiere que creamos lo que dice.
It’s true, even if you (formal) don’t believe it.
Es verdad, aunque usted no lo crea.
There are just a few more forms of Creer that we should make sure to practice because they’re super common. The contraction creerlo occurs a lot in Spanish. Here’s an example:
I was in trouble for believing it.
Estaba en problemas por creerlo.
The imperative is very common as well. The informal imperative is cree. For example:
Believe in yourself(f)!
¡Cree en ti misma!
The negative informal imperative is common too, which is creas, the same as the second person subjunctive. For example:
Don’t believe what they say.
No creas lo que dicen.
And then there’s the very common contraction créeme, which means “believe me”. This is spelled c-r-e-e-m-e, but with an accent mark on the first E. For example:
Believe me, I didn't do it!
¡Créeme, yo no lo hice!
Let’s practice these.
Believe me! I want to go!
¡Créeme! ¡Quiero ir!
Don’t believe what she told you.
No creas lo que te dijo.
First, believe in me!
¡Primero, cree en mí!
I can’t believe it, it’s not true.
No puedo creerlo, no es verdad.
For more practice with any of this, feel free to dig deeper at LCSPodcast.com/116. Or if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz.
Leave me! I just want them to believe me.
¡Déjame! Solo quiero que me crean.
Don’t believe that this isn’t worse.
No creas que esto no es peor.
I hope she doesn’t believe what they said about me.
Espero que ella no crea lo que dijeron sobre mí.
She’ll tell me it when I believe her.
Me lo dirá cuando le crea.
She believed this wasn’t the reality.
Ella creía que esta no era la realidad.
Believe me! She always leaves her things everywhere.
¡Créeme! Siempre deja sus cosas por todas partes.
She hasn’t believed in anything in years.
No ha creído en nada en años.
You aren’t going to believe it, but we think it might be true.
No vas a creerlo, pero creemos que puede ser verdad.
You have to believe in something, so leave that behind!
¡Tienes que creer en algo, así que deja eso atrás!
Do you think she was talking about that?
¿Crees que hablaba acerca de eso?
They don’t believe in war.
No creen en la guerra.
She believes the same thing I used to believe.
Cree lo mismo que yo creía.
She believed the game was quite fast that time.
Creyó que el juego era bastante rápido esa vez.
What about security? I thought it was safe.
¿Qué hay de la seguridad? Creí que era seguro.
Wait! There are those who want to play board games.
¡Espera! Hay quienes quieren jugar juegos de mesa.
You thought the place was safe.
Creías que el lugar era seguro.
I think we should talk quietly as soon as she is here.
Creo que deberíamos hablar bajo tan pronto como ella esté aquí.
I hope you believe in something, so believe in yourself!
Espero que creas en algo, así que ¡cree en ti mismo!
She hopes we can do it kind of well.
Ella espera que lo podamos hacer medio bien.
For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/116.
In tomorrow’s episode, we’ll learn the Spanish verb that describes the act of thinking, or thinking about something.
This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach Ximena Lama-Rondón. Our music was performed by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.