You believe a proposition (“all lions are mammals”, “Winnie the Pooh shot JFK”, doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, that’s a separate issue), a witness or source (“On this issue I believe the New York Times”). It’s always with reference to a particular question.
Believe means to accept that something or someone’s words are true. You can believe a person, or something that a person said:
- I believe her. She is always honest.
- Do you believe her story? It sounds fishy to me.
“Believe” by itself means to think that something is true. “Most people believe the earth is round” means that most people think the world is spherical.
You believe a source. I believe him. She believes the newspaper.
Believe IN something
The phrasal verb BELIEVE IN has two different meanings
- One is to think that something exists—when someone says, “I believe in God,” it means that person thinks that God exists.
- The other meaning of “believe in” is “to have faith in someone or something.” For example, when a law school graduate is about to take the bar exam, and a friend says, “I believe in you,” it means the friend has faith in the person’s ability.
believe in somebody
to trust someone because you think that they can do something well or that they are a good person:
Gradually, since her divorce, she’s beginning to believe in herself again.
believe in something
- to be certain that something exists:
Do you believe in ghosts?
2. to be confident that something is effective and right:
They don’t believe in living together before marriage.
He believes in saying what he thinks.
Some people believe in life after death.
She strongly believes in the curative powers of the local mineral water.
Do you believe in an all-powerful god ?
Did you believe in fairies when you were little?
The tragedy made her question everything she believed in.
You believe in a witness or source’s reliability or capability (“I believe in my wife’s truthfulness”), in something’s existence (“I believe in Santa”), or (and this is where it gets tricky sometimes) whether or not a thing should be done/should exist. (“I don’t believe in drinking and driving” or “I don’t believe in genocide.”) “Believe in” usually refers to the general category rather than the particular case.
Believe in is a little different. Believe in means to have faith that something exists. You believe in something because you have faith that it exists, even though you may never have seen or experienced it:
- Do you believe in ghosts?
- Many people in the world believe in God.