Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

Pain in the English offers proofreading services for short-form writing such as press releases, job applications, or marketing copy. 24 hour turnaround. Learn More


As a non-native teacher of English as a Foreign Language, I have always frowned on my students’ use of the sentence “I have a doubt”.

Judging it a typical case of language transfer, I promptly tell them that they should instead say that they “have a question”.

After coming across the sentence “if students have doubt” in a teacher’s guide, I don’t feel so self-assured as to jump on my students’ phrase anymore.

Any comment on this usage will be greatly appreciated.


Submit Your Comment



Sort by  OldestLatestRating

A native speaker would never use 'doubt' interchangably with 'question' in the context you gave.

"I have a question" carries the implication that one does not understand.

"I have doubts" carries the implication that one understands, but does not agree.

Your teachers guide is also right. To me, it's hinting at a case in which the students are questioning something because it disagrees with something they learned before.

Alchemae February 13, 2005, 8:31pm

2 votes    Permalink    Report Abuse

i actually saw a movie on the basis of the relgious faith, and it talked about the difference between doubt and question.

a doubter, doubts and does not seek an answer.
a questioner, those that are inquisitive, questions because they seek an answer.

so.. "I have a doubt" is a very negative phrase if compared to the culture of the world of human flourishing

Kwang June 28, 2012, 11:30am

2 votes    Permalink    Report Abuse

I agree 100%. No doubts here :)

speedwell2 February 14, 2005, 8:13am

1 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse


Unggit Tjitradjaja February 14, 2005, 12:32pm

1 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Thank you Alchemae for sharing your insightful comment.

It seems that some of them will still say "I have a doubt" :)

take care


Eduardo February 14, 2005, 12:54pm

1 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Yes     No