We use this expression when we are surprised. Something shocking happened and it is hard for us to believe. It could be a good surprise or a bad surprise.
I can't believe that I won!
I can't believe that we lost!
This expression shows surprise, but it is also often used when the speaker is angry because something surprising or unexpected happened.
I can't believe that somebody stole my bike!
Subject + can't believe (that) + sentence
I can't believe that she quit her job.
I cannot believe you said that to her.
I can't believe people don't like this movie. I love it!
She cannot believe her boyfriend broke up with her.
The boy can't believe that his teacher wasn't angry.
We can't believe that our former boss was arrested yesterday.
They can't believe that I am married with 4 children.
People can't believe I work at Google.
Most people cannot believe that aliens exist.
If we want to make the sentence past tense, just change "cannot" to "could not". We use the past tense with this sentence to talk about our feelings of surprise in the past.
Subject + couldn't believe (that) + sentence
I couldn't believe that she fell asleep during the test.
She couldn't believe that her brother stole her money.
They couldn't believe that they won the lottery.
I couldn't believe that she said that to you.
We couldn't believe that he walked out of the meeting.
When making questions that are related to this sentence pattern, do not use the negative form. Instead, we should use "can" or "could".
Could you believe that she lied to her mother?
Can you believe that she didn't come?
Can you believe that it is going to rain every day during my vacation?
Bonus Tips and Points
1. "Believe" is often used to show what a person thinks is true or not true.
Subject + (don't) believe...
I don't believe her.
She didn't believe what I said.
He will not believe you.
I do not believe that he will agree to help us.
She does not believe that the government will lower taxes.
2. We use "believe in + noun" when we are certain that something exists or is real.
I believe in God, but my sister doesn't believe in God.
The girl believes in Santa Claus.
We also use "believe in + gerund" when we think that doing something is right.
We believe in helping our neighbors.
He believes in donating to charity.
I don't believe in eating animals.
Real-World English Conversations
A) Did you hear that she stole a car? B) What? I can't believe that she would do that!
A) I can't believe that you didn't call me. B) Sorry. I didn't think about it.
A) I can't believe you bought another pair of shoes. You have too many already. B) But look at how cool these are.
A) I couldn't believe the news when I first heard it. B) I know. It was really surprising.
A) Congratulations on the promotion. B) Thank you. I still can't believe it.
A) I can't believe you are going to leave the company. I will miss you. B) I will miss you too.
Use these free English lessons to learn the most common sentence patterns in the English language. If you learn these sentence and questions well, it will help you speak English well. Study the lessons thoroughly, practice making your own sentences, and come back to review often. If you do these three steps, your English speaking will improve quickly and you will be able to have natural English conversations.
Do you need to Learn English Faster? Do you want to speak English fluently?