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1. I believe that John will be acquitted in the end.

2. I believe in John's being acquitted in the end.

I would like to ask whether I can change the sentence 1 into the sentence 2. I am not sure if the second sentence with "ing form" is formulated properly and if it indicates the future tense.

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  • I mean it one type of the complex sentence. But I was probably wrong. It is supposed to be the object clause. In my grammar book there is as the example of this clase used this one: I think that he is on holiday. – bart-leby Apr 22 '16 at 13:30
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    I don't think the gerund (second) version works very well in this specific context. I'm happy enough with, say, I believe in John's innocence as an alternative to I believe John is innocent, but there's a limit to how far you can stretch the construction. I believe you will like this is fine, but I believe in your liking this is just ridiculous. – FumbleFingers Apr 22 '16 at 13:33
  • I believe that the best way to grammatically state this sentence is: "I believe that in the end, John will be acquitted." The sentence "I believe in John's being acquitted in the end." is understandable but not as grammatical as the other ways you state this sentence. – Mark Ripley Apr 22 '16 at 15:01
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believe in has a somewhat different set of meanings to believe. Here is the information from the Oxford Dictionary

believe
1. Accept that (something) is true, especially without proof
the superintendent believed Lancaster’s story
[with clause]: some 23 per cent believe that smoking keeps down weight

believe in
1. Have faith in the truth or existence of
those who believe in God

.

  1. I believe that John will be acquitted in the end.

This statement works fine with the believe meaning: you accept that something is true.

  1. I believe in John's being acquitted in the end.

This sentence is grammatically correct but does not feel right because it suggests some kind of religious or idealistic faith in the outcome.

Things that you can believe in are God, justice (as an abstract concept), progress, and of course Father Christmas and the tooth fairy.

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"I believe that John will be acquitted in the end." can be changed to "I believe that John is going to be acquitted in the end." In both of these sentences "that" can be omitted, but it will be less formal.

"I believe in" is generally reserved for nouns. Some examples: I believe in you! I believe in his abilities. I believe in Hinduism.

"I believe in John's being acquitted in the end," is technically correct, but sounds wrong. Unfortunately, I can't come up with a way to explain why. Hopefully this helps.

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