I read that when you have two verbs in a sentence the second one should be in the infinitive form.

So I saw the line below (may well be incorrect in which case my question is moot).

So we have creer conjugated in the first person singular, "creo" but then we also have estar in the conjugated form "estoy", how is that? Tratando is in the gerund form and forzar in the infinitive form which seems in keeping with the rules I learnt.

Creo que estoy tratando de forzarlo -> I think I am trying to force it.

  • Us natives sometimes don't know those "rules" since for us something sounds natural without thinking on rules but I guess the rule you are talking about is not true. It is the same in your English example where: Infinitive to force=forzar. Gerund trying=tratando, Singular/present I think=creo.
    – DGaleano
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 18:21
  • I think the rule is not true. A simpler example: Creo que estoy enfermo (I think I'm sick). That's a valid sentence and it has no infinitive verb. Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 18:38
  • @MauricioMartinez "estoy enfermo" are not two conjugated verbs, "enfermo" is an adjective
    – Mike
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 19:20
  • 1
    @Mike my example is "[creo] que [estoy] enfermo". Both, "creer" and "estar", are conjugated. Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 19:35
  • I see so maybe its not hard rule more a general guide then
    – mHelpMe
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 19:55

2 Answers 2


"If there are two verbs in a sentence the second one should be in the infinitive form" is certainly not a rule that I would teach. Make that "in some verb phrases a verb that is usually conjugated is followed by another verb that is in the infinitive form", and you'll have something that does work in some specific contexts, with some specific verbs.

For example, it works in certain propositions where the main verb is poder, deber, querer, tratar, creer, and others, some of which an English speaker would analyze as modal verbs (can, should, must) or as verbs that often take a subordinate verb (want (to), try (to)).

  • No puedo creer lo que escucho. = "I can't believe what I'm hearing."
  • Creo entenderte. = "I think I understand you."
  • Deberíamos dejarlo solo. = "We should leave him alone."
  • ¿Quieres entrar? = "Do you want to come in?"
  • Trataré de hablar con ella. = "I will try to talk to her."

Now your example says:

Creo que estoy tratando de forzarlo.

This is actually fairly complicated because there are three verbs and each one is subordinated to the previous one.

  1. Creer is followed by que, indicating that what follows is a subordinate clause (as in English when preceded by an optional that).
  2. The subordinate clause, estoy tratando de forzarlo, has a main verb tratar in the "present continuous" pseudo-tense. Tratar is commonly followed by another verb in the infinitive, subordinated using the preposition de, just as in English you would use to in try to….
  3. Finally there's the verb forzar with a direct object pronoun attached to it.

In each step you must know how the verb works with other verbs. Creer is often followed by full subordinate phrases, and tratar de is followed by infinitives, but the reverse can also be true:

  • Creo estar tratando de forzarlo.
  • Creo que estoy tratando de que se afloje. (aflojar = "to loosen")

Your rule says:

When you have two verbs in a sentence the second one should be in the infinitive form

I think you were given this rule so that you wouldn't be tempted to try something like this:

Creo estoy tratando de forzarlo.

"Creo estoy" (two conjugated verbs in a row) does not work.

But a rule of thumb like this shouldn't be applied on autopilot. For example,

Los sábados limpio la casa y voy al supermercado.

"Limpio y voy" -- that's fine, because they form a list of two.

And in your case, "Creo que estoy" works because each verb is in its own clause.

Reference explaining clauses in English (this concept holds in Spanish as well): http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/clause.htm

One could refine the rule, I suppose, and make it "When you have two verbs in a clause, the second one should be in the infinitive form," but I'm not sure I would bother. As you continue to build more complex sentences I doubt you'll need that rule any more.

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