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  5. "Ella creía que éramos amigos…

"Ella creía que éramos amigos."

Translation:She used to believe we were friends.

March 22, 2013


  • 1513

The speaker doesn't seem like a very nice person.


why? just because he has another status of their relationship in his mind?


Exactly the case when you get friendzoned.


It could have been a case of mistaken identity and there was no malice intended.


and not very friendly


quizá el orador cree que él y su "amiga(o)" son más que amigos. Quizá cree ellos son aficionados ;)


It is one of those grammatically correct but meaningless DL sentences.


Or meaningful, depending on your mental creativity and openness.


For those wondering why 'were' is not in the subjunctive form, 'creer que' doesn't trigger the subjunctive. But 'no creer que' triggers the subjunctive


Somehow, "creer que" expresses certainty while "no creer que" expresses doubt.

  • 1599

Remember, subjunctive refers to a type of unreality.

If you believe in x, then x exists and is real (to you, anyway)
If you don't believe in x, then x doesn't exist and is unreal (to you)

So the 1st case doesn't use the subjunctive mood while the 2nd does.


Careful. This reasoning is not foolproof. Take the following sentence for example:

Me alegro de que hayas llegado.
I am happy you have come.

There is no doubt or uncertainty the the person has come. He is standing right there. The reason for subjunctive is twofold:

  1. The sentence is focused on your happiness, the subjunctive cause explains why you are saying you are happy, it is considered the minor player in the sentence.

  2. There is no reason for you to "declare a new fact or belief" by using the indicative. The person is standing right there. Here knows he is there. Everyone else within earshot knows he is there. When everybody already knows something, that part of the sentence usually goes in the subjunctive, while the "new information" "I am happy" goes in the indicative.


creer que doesn't express certainty. It expresses belief, thought or opinion. In Spanish, when you say what you think or believe, you normally say it using the indicative.

If you say that MAYBE (tal vez, quizas) you think something you can say it using either the indicative or subjunctive.

If you say something by using a subordinate clause with que, for example: Es probable que .... Then you have to use the subjunctive.

The idea of "certainty or doubt" or reality or irreality can be helpful, but they are not conclusive guidelines. You have to learn the various phrases and learn which phrases allow which mood, and under which circumstances.


thanks, answers my question exactly!


If the sentence were to be in the negative form, i.e. "Ella no creía que ...", would the verbe éramos be in the subjunctive form? So, "Ella no creía que fuéramos amigos." ???


Brian, Exactly! Yes! You are on the right track.


Could you explain why this is?


Mstahr, Legend's comment at the top of this page explains it, but here is some more detail. "Creo que" in Spanish does not express doubt, it is an assertion, an affirmation, and therefore takes the indicative mood. Creo que él es muy simpático. "No creo que" triggers the subjunctive. No creo que él sea muy simpático. Pensar and suponer work the same way.


Thank you, Melita. There are no true Spanish ateists then?


Why "she was thinking" not accepted?


DL normally offers three alternatives for the past imperfect, which in this case would be "she used to think", "she thought", and "she was thinking." I can't see any reason why the last is excluded here. Reporting (Oct 2014).


As of January 25, 2016, this answer is still not accepted. Reporting.

  • 1513

I think that would be estaba creyendo (imperfect of "estar;" gerund of "creer")


Was thinking is incorrect English to expressed the simple idea that she thought something. Only if was to express an active thought process, for example, I was thinking about where to go on vacation, is is proper English. There was no "active thinking process occurring" in this example. It was just something that she believed. The imperfect is used because she probably believed it prior to this statement being make and afterwards. We are not making any comment, in Spanish, by using the imperfect about how long she believed this, or even if she STILL believes it. For this reason the "used to believe" or "used to think" option should not be accepted in this case because it implies that she no longer believes that we are friends which the Spanish imperfect does not say at all.

  • 1527

until you stole away with her sister??


Some of the translations reflect 'used to'. However, I understood the 'aba'/'ia' suffixes to relate to an action in the past that may not be resolved, ie. was or were doing something. So, while it is correct to say 'used to believe', it could also be correct to say 'was believing' in that the action had begun in the past, but had not been resolved or concluded. (hablaba = was talking, hacia = was doing, etc.)


Why does Duolingo put "used to" as a meaning of this tense? Where I live I only learned and hear "soler" as meaning used to. "Solia creer que ...


I missed the second e out of believe and got marked wrong. Am I learning Spanish or English?


"creo que si" means I THINK so ( at least it's used that way) so why can't "Ella creia que..." be "She used to THINK..." (DL has marked this as incorrect). I've reported it but...


I think when DL started they made a distinction between "creer"="believe" and "pensar"="think" but over time the database has come to accept, as it should, that "think" and "believe" are often interchangeable in English (Nb: The same is not so true of "creer" and "pensar" in Spanish).



She use to think we where friends

Is not accepted


That's probably not a think / believe issue, but instead your use of "use" instead of "used".


In English, there is no distinction between preterite and imperfect. I wrote books for many yesrs (imperfect). I wrote this book last year. (Preterite). Adding "used to" is just a way of distinguishing the imperfect tense when there is insufficient context.


Wouldn't this translate to "She used to believe that we used to be friends."??? I'm so confused!


Good question. It highlights how our different versions of representing the Spanish imperfect in English work. I don't think your sentence is wrong, it just sounds odd, because we wouldn't normally double up the "used to."

All the imperfect is saying is that something happened over a time instead of at a time. As her holding this belief wasn't a momentary event we need to use the imperfect in Spanish. We can translate this as "She used to believe" or "She believed" but DL has a tendency to use the "used to" structure because it removes ambiguity ("She believed" would also be a valid translation for the Spanish preterite).

Personally I dislike the "used to" construction as I think it conveys an over and done with concept that isn't absolutely necessary, but I can understand why DL and many other platforms choose to use it to represent the imperfect.

Anyway, now we can look at what she used to believe: that we were / used to be friends. Again this is something that happened over a period of time, it wasn't a single event, so we need the imperfect, but now we can safely choose "were" as opposed to "used to be" because it is more natural English.


It is generally fine to use the "used to" phrase for repeated or habitual ACTIONS in the past. But with "state / status" verbs that merely describe what someone thought, believed, loved, had, etc. in the past, the "used to" phrase every time the Spanish imperfect is used is just plain wrong.


Why can't this be translated as "She used to believe that we were friends?"


It can (assuming your question mark is meant to be outside the quotation marks). If that was marked incorrect you should report it.


The "used to" phrase should only be used for repetitive ACTIONS although duo also tends to accept it, erroneously, for "status verbs" such as to think, to believe or to have. When used for these verbs, using "used to" implies that this status is no longer true. The Spanish imperfect is silent regarding whether something that was true in the past continued to be true after the point referenced or even whether or not it is true today.


Why is "she used to believe we were friends" wrong? Wouldn't you use pensaba for think?

  • 1513

It now lists "she used to believe we were friends" as the answer; so I "believe" you were right.


She use to think we where friends

También no es correcto.


Why "she used to believe that we're friends" not acceptable? I believe that "we're" and "we are" are the same.


RABayer, I hope I can help! (Although noting that this was two years ago, you probably have solved this already.)

In the present tense of the English verb "to be", "we are" contracts to "we're". So you are right that "we are" and "we're" are synonymous.

On the other hand, you may be thinking that "we were" can be contracted. It cannot. The past imperfect conjugations of "to be" do not contract with the subject pronouns, not for "we" or any other subject pronoun*.

So, since this Spanish sentence is in the imperfect past, "she used to believe we were friends", what she was believing would also be in the past. Past imperfect or "to be": I was, you were, he/she/it was; we were, you were, they were.

*The only exception to the no imperfect contractions comment is the third person singular "it" + was". Thus, --> 'Twas the night before Christmas.... --> 'Twas brillig and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble.... Note that the vowel "i" gets dropped in the " 'Twas" contraction.


... but they were actually husband and wife. Ayyy!


Since the subject "ella" and the speaker are female, it needs to be "amigAs"


What is wrong with "she was thinking that we were friends"?


Would love to hear from native speakers if creer is used for "think"? Thnx in advance


My professor explained the use of subjunctive like this: You use the subjunctive in four different aspects, those being obligation, negation, causation, and emotion/doubt. Remeber the mnemonic ONCE (obligación, negación, causación, emoción), and you'll never go wrong. :)


I love how spanish has so much more information than the english. It can be interpreted a fes ways either way


She used to think that we where friends.

Was not accepted 4 Feb 2018


It shouldn't be: where.


Why wouldn't it be "Ella creio que eramos amigos"? I thought that when things were in the past tense the first person has the "a"/"e" ending and the third person has the "o" ending.


regular past tense imperfect/preterite

-AR verbs: the first person sing has -aba/-é ending and the third -aba/ -ó

-ER/-IR verbs: the first person sing has -ía/ -í ending and the third -ía/ -io

(creer is irregular in preterite third person sing = creyó)


Porque use to ?

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