Penser que, croire que = To think that, to believe that

Look at these sentences:

Vous pensez qu'elle chante bien.
You think (that) she sings well.

Elle croit que les anges existent.
She believes (that) angels exist.

Nous pensons que c'est une bonne idée.
We think it's a good idea.

Ils croient que tu caches quelque chose.
They believe you're hiding something.



ATTENTION 
When using verbs of opinions such as penser (to think) and croire (to believe) to say 'I believe that / I think that' in French, you always need to put que ('that') after them, whereas in English you can sometimes omit it.

For example: In French, you can NEVER say ''Vous pensez elle chante bien.'' or ''Elle croit les anges existent.''

 

See also the more advanced Using 'trouver' to express 'to find' and opinions  and Using Le Subjonctif after penser, trouver. savoir, croire, prétendre + que in the negative

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Ils croient que tu caches quelque chose.
They believe you're hiding something.


Je crois que mon ami a raison.
I believe my friend is right.


Nous pensons que c'est une bonne idée.
We think it's a good idea.


Elle croit que les anges existent.
She believes (that) angels exist.


Je pense que tu es gentil.
I think you're kind.


Vous pensez qu'elle chante bien.
You think (that) she sings well.


Q&A Forum 3 questions, 9 answers

ShakirA1Kwiziq community member

Why isn’t the Subjonctif Mood used here?

For example why don’t we say « je pense que tu sois gentil » instead of « Je pense que tu es gentil »

Thanks in advance :)

Asked 3 weeks ago
JeanC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributorCorrect answer

The verb penser and a few others have special rules regarding the use of the subjunctive. There are entire chapters in some grammar texts on this because it is quite complex, but as I understand it, the subjunctive is used for negative ideas or inverted interrogative phrases (ex. pensez-vous qu'il soit gentil ?) with these verbs. However, for affirmative statements as is the one in your question, the indicative is used. 

Why isn’t the Subjonctif Mood used here?

For example why don’t we say « je pense que tu sois gentil » instead of « Je pense que tu es gentil »

Thanks in advance :)

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EmilyKwiziq community member

Why is que used instead of ce que ?

“Nous pensons que c'est une bonne idée.”

Why is ‘que’ used instead of ‘ce que’  if we’re referring to the entire statement ‘c’est une bonne idée’ and not a specific object? 

I’m dying to know why! 

Asked 4 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

You need que in this context, because it functions as the introduction of a subordinate clause and not as a relative pronoun.

Nous pensons que c'est une bonne idée. -- We think that this is a good idea. (Note that "that" isn't a relative pronoun in the English language version either.)

Ce que tu dis est une bonne idée. -- What you say is a good idea. (What = that which)

Claudine aime tout ce que son père lui dit. -- Claudine likes everything that her father tells her. (that = that which)

Claudine aime que son père lui raconte des histoires. -- Claudine likes that her father tells her stories.

Notice that in the last case, where "that" isn't a relative pronoun, the substitution by "that which" doesn't work.

Why is que used instead of ce que ?

“Nous pensons que c'est une bonne idée.”

Why is ‘que’ used instead of ‘ce que’  if we’re referring to the entire statement ‘c’est une bonne idée’ and not a specific object? 

I’m dying to know why! 

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SurendraA1Kwiziq community member

Why 'avoir' instead of 'etre' before 'raison'

I saw in one of the examples the following sentence. Je crois que mon ami a raison. why is 'a' used before 'raison'. Shouldn't it be 'est' if we speak literally?
Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
If we look at the phrase "He is right" this translates as "il a raison". I too had an issue with this at the onset; however, I have learned to accept the use of avoir as an idiosyncracy of the French language. I feel quite sure that there is a grammar rule that explains the use of avoir in this phrase.
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
If we look at the phrase "He is right" this translates as "il a raison". I too had an issue with this at the onset; however, I have learned to accept the use of avoir as an idiosyncracy of the French language. I feel quite sure that there is a grammar rule that explains the use of avoir in this phrase. ***https://www.laits.utexas.edu/tex/gr/virr3.html This is another reference page that shows several idiomatic phrases that use the verb avoir.
GruffKwiziq team member
Hi Surenda - it will make more intuitive sense if you translate 'raison' as meaning 'cause' or 'reason' rather than 'right'. One is right, but one has cause or reason. Having said this, it's never a good idea to try to translate literally or word for word between languages as usually work differently and logic in one won't necessarily apply in the other.

French often translates more closely to old English, than modern English, but knowing this can be helpful in establishing an intuition for how things are said.
SurendraA1Kwiziq community member
Thanks Ron and gruff for your advice, it makes it makes more sense now.
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Surendra, de rien.
SueC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
the problem is with the english not with the french. English suses the verb to be when other european languages use the verb have. we feel cold we do not change to become all cold it is something we have or feel not become totally
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
I agree that English uses the verb to be and French uses to have "avoir". One of my French teachers explained it thusly: "We use avoir because it is a temporary condition, i.e. j'ai faim, j'ai soif, j'ai froid. All 3 phrases use avoir. As soon as one eats, drinks something or puts on a coat, the condition is alleviated. The sense of être, intuitively, gives more permanence to the condition. J'espère que cela vous aide.

Why 'avoir' instead of 'etre' before 'raison'

I saw in one of the examples the following sentence. Je crois que mon ami a raison. why is 'a' used before 'raison'. Shouldn't it be 'est' if we speak literally?

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