6 Vote

Hi all,

So I have a question for the native speakers and/or other advanced students that happen to know the difference between the phrases "creo que..." and "pienso que...". As a native English speaker, I used to use "pienso que..." more often, because in English I would say "I think that...". However, I have noticed that most native Spanish speakers I talk to (who are primarily from Mexico and Columbia) tend to use "creo que..." most the time, and I have since switched to that. Can anyone explain the different connotations between the two and/or if they are interchangable? When I say "creo que..." am I saying something different than when I say "peinso que..."?


  • Posted May 8, 2010
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  • I am neither an advanced nor native speaker, but when I see 'pensar' I think of the english 'pensive' which is what I am when I think long or meditate on something or someone, not just a quick thought or belief about it (creo que). I hope this helps. - AuntieJenny Mar 8, 2016 flag

5 Answers

5 Vote

"Creo que" is definitely more popular than "pienso que" when you want to say "I think, believe, have the opinion of ...."

Pensar = something you do with your brain. "Pienso en ti." (I think about you)

Creer = something you think, as in believe, have an opinion about. "Creo que va a llover" (I think/believe that it's going to rain.)

  • Hi, thanks for your repsonse, but I am aware of this difference. I am actually asking about "peinso que..." and "creo que..." specifically. Thanks anyway though! - aceydoubleyo May 8, 2010 flag
  • Honestly Mariana's response applies directly to your question. I've compared with others, and this is the best. Here's why... - DJ_Huero Feb 7, 2011 flag
  • ... she explains when and why you use creer and pensar in which situations here. I think you should reread it and give it a little bit more thought, just my advice. It's good stuff. - DJ_Huero Feb 7, 2011 flag
  • I elaborate, see my answer. ;) - DJ_Huero Feb 7, 2011 flag
4 Vote

"Pienso que" comes out as more tentative than "creo que" and the well known "hispanic exaggeration" ensures that nobody only "thinks that" - they all "believe that" or even "know that"


PS Just consider "perfeccionar" which no way means "to perfect" but only "to improve". Driven home to me by the HR boss at UN in Chile who told me that he spent time in England to perfect his English!

2 Vote

Adding to Mariana's answer:

Pensar is more of an action you would use toward something, like she said, "Pienso en ti" meaning "I think of you". When you think of someone, they're not a belief or a thought process, it's something you do.

Creer is more of a thought process or something you believe, like "Creo en esta religión" meaning "I believe in this religion". Or here is an even better example to set them apart. "Creo en ti" would translate "I believe in you", as in you have faith in that person. "¡Si se puede! Creo en ti." translating to, "You can do it! I believe in you". You're believing in that person, not thinking in that person.

If you think that something is one way then you use, "Creo que". If you think about someone or something, you use "Pienso que".

Does this help? grin

1 Vote

I asked a similar question once. Click here to view the thread.

1 Vote

I've noticed when reading corrections for " picture of the day" there is confusion between these two terms, so I did a search and came up with this thread. I have also been corrected for using" pienso que" when I should have used "creo que".

  • The same thing happened to me. - pesta Feb 7, 2011 flag
  • Yup... it's a very common mistake/ habit... and even after you know the difference, it takes work to break it. =) - DJ_Huero Jun 8, 2011 flag
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