Posted by: janecronin | November 12, 2017


The primary meaning of “creer” is “to believe” although in everyday speech it often appears when we would use the word “to think” in English.  For example, if I were to say “I think his name is Bill” or “I think the concert starts at 8 o’clock” I am really stating something that I believe to be true, rather than talking about my thought processes.  In these sentences we use the verb “creer” in Spanish: “Creo que se llama Bill”; “Creo que el concierto empieza a las 8”.  Likewise, when we are confirming information with the expressions “I think so” and “I don´t think so”, we also use “creer”, with those very useful phrases “creo que sí” and “creo que no”.  It’s also possible to say “no creo” in response to an affirmation, again meaning “I don´t think so”.

“Creer” is a regular verb in all tenses with just one small spelling variation in the third person singular of the preterite tense which changes “creio” to “creyó”.  This is a standard spelling adjustment which occurs with regular –er and –ir verbs with roots ending in a vowel, such as “leer” and “caer”.  It is easy to confuse the verb “creer” with “crear” (to create) and in some forms they are exactly the same.  For example “creo” which would normally mean “I believe” could also mean “I create”, although the context would obviously make the meaning clear.  In the preterite tense, he or she created is “creó” as opposed to the above mentioned “creyó”.

There are some very useful derivatives of the verb “creer”, including the adjectives “creíble” and even more useful “¡increíble!” which is often used as an exclamation meaning “incredible!”.  Notice the accent on the “i” of “increíble” where the emphasis falls.  Another adjective with derives from “creer” is “crédulo” which means “credulous” or “gullible”.  “Incrédulo” therefore means “incredulous”, in other words “sceptical”.  It is interesting that we often have secondary words which look like the Spanish equivalent (crédulo – credulous etc.)  This is because the English language has two distinct sources:  Germanic and Latin languages.  Often our most basic word comes from Old English which is related to old Germanic languages, whilst more sophisticated secondary words come from Latin.

Also related to the Latin verb “to believe” (credere) is the Christian “Creed” which starts “I believe in God”.  The word for “creed” in Spanish is “credo” which means “I believe” in Latin.  I would now like to defend myself for imaginary complaints about imparting such apparently useless information, as noticing the roots and origins of words can take us a long way down the road of understanding foreign languages, not to mention our own rich mother tongue.




  1. Wonderful! Lots of ground covered there. Thank you for explaining the links and roots – and for your encouraging manner.

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