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I met a sentence in a dictionary yesterday.

The whole family has signed affidavits stating that they believed the will to be valid.

I though about it and I realized that if I was asked to express the same meaning, I may use:

The whole family has signed affidavits stating that they believed the will is valid.

Is my translation correct? If so, what's the difference between them?

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"Believe" can be followed by a subordinate clause (with or without "that" at the start), with a finite verb in the subordinate clause:

They believed (that) the will was valid.

But it is equally correct to follow "believe" with a direct object and then an infinitive:

They believed the will to be valid.

The two structures are different ("that" is impossible in the second one) but equally valid and carry the same meaning. The second version is a bit more formal.

Examples of both structures are given in dictionaries, e.g. Cambridge:

[ + that ] He believes that all children are born with equal intelligence.

[ + obj + to infinitive ] I believe her to be the finest violinist in the world.

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  • Thanks for the answer! I didn't know it's about the word believe. May 5, 2021 at 7:44

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