'Believe Someone' or 'Believe in Someone'? What Is the Difference? | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 27 December 2023)

Believe Someone or Believe in Someone: What Is the Difference?

If you believe someone, you trust what they have said. In other words, you consider their assertion(s) to be correct and/or truthful:

Carrie said she had paid the money back, but I did not believe her.

John said he was the son of a billionaire and she believed him!

Believe me, it's not going to work.

If you believe in someone, you have faith in their abilities and think that they have the potential to succeed:

As teachers, we believe in our students.

If you want to succeed, you must believe in yourself.

Many people have stopped believing in the chief executive after his numerous political blunders.

Believe in is also widely used in religious contexts to mean that you are sure that someone or something exists:

I believe in God.

Do you believe in ghosts?

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Examples from the Media

If someone told you their pet rabbit had gone missing, would you believe them? The Guardian (2015)

To some extent, each new generation is shocked to learn that leaders lie and that people believe them. —The New York Times (2021)

"I believe in fierce, smart, compassionate, hard-working women and I believe in Rebecca Schulz," Ambrose said in a media release when her position was announced. —Toronto Star (2022)

I only select the artists I like. If I don't believe in them, then why should I spend so many hours doing brochures and promoting them? —South China Morning Post (2014)


Choose the correct answer to complete each sentence.

1. You're such a liar! I'll never believe/believe in you again!

2. You'll never succeed if you don't believe/believe in yourself.

3. I'm starting to think that Paul actually believes/believes in ghosts!

4. I told him I'd seen Messi but he didn't believe/believe in me.

Answer Key

1. believe    2. believe in    3. believes in    4. believe

Real-World Examples of Misuse

1. Teach agrees with the first person plural pronoun we while teaches does not.
2. I believe that this is what the writer intended.

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