Creía que era un secreto.

English Translation

I thought it was a secret.

can anyone explain why ‘crei’ wouldn’t be the answer? Or couldn’t be the answer??

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I would say that without context, “creía” is the safer choice, as “creer” is a verb of description, not action.

Disclaimer: I’m not a native speaker.

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I am a native speaker, but I don’t know Spanish Grammar rules.
I can just say that here both creí(pret. perfecto simple) and creía(pret. imperfecto) would work.

If you want to know the differences and where you should use one or another check this:

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That’s a great reference! So, “creía” if I possibly still believe so, and “creí” if I no longer believe so?

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More like creí is a finished process and creía you are talking within the time it’s happening.

creí que era así - you are talking about a finished action.
creía que era así - you are talking about the past, but from within the day in progress. It’s an unfinished process.

It’s confusing to be honest, even for me.

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