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

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.


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.


Q&A

Surendra

Kwiziq community member

20 April 2017

7 replies

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?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

20 April 2017

20/04/17

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.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

20 April 2017

20/04/17

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.

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

21 April 2017

21/04/17

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.

Surendra

Kwiziq community member

21 April 2017

21/04/17

Thanks Ron and gruff for your advice, it makes it makes more sense now.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

23 April 2017

23/04/17

Surendra, de rien.

sue

Kwiziq community member

24 April 2017

24/04/17

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

Ron

Kwiziq community member

24 April 2017

24/04/17

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.
I'll be right with you...