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Which one is the correct form of the word "Word "in the sentence: word or words

Can I have a word with you?

or

Can I have words with you?

2 Answers 2

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Both are fine, although they typically mean different things.

Can I have a word with you?

This means that you are asking to simply ask or tell somebody something.

Can I have words with you?

This is a common expression that implies you are angry with them. By having words, you will express your displeasure and, perhaps, indicate what they did wrong and what will happen now.


A famous line from the movie Robocop (YouTube clip) is:

"Come quietly or there will be . . . trouble."

This could be paraphrased as:

"Come quietly or we will have . . . words."


From Collins:

have words with [somebody]

If one person has words with another, or if two or more people have words, they have a serious discussion or argument, especially because one has complained about the other's behaviour.

We had words and she stormed out.
I shall have words with these stupid friends of mine!

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"Can I have a word with you?" is the correct one when asking to speak to someone.

"Can I have words with you?" is wrong - it could even be interpreted as "Can I eat words with you?".

Hope this helped.

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