In an English teaching video, the teacher who is a native British English speaker answers the questions from the learners. And he says:

"I had a question". And he starts to say what the question is and tries to answer the question, which was asked by one of learners.

I found this sentence unusual, because I thought "I had a question" means almost the same as "I have a question", only the past form of it. In other words, the sentence should mean "I am the one who has the question". But the teacher used this sentence to refer to a question which he received from a learner, not his own question.

So, I got confused. Is "I had a question" not just the past version of "I have a question"?

or does "I had a question" have 2 meanings:

1-past tense of "I have a question".

2-another way of saying "I have a received a question from somebody else to be answered by me.


For those who wants to hear the sentence, the video is on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQBr6HnG1QI

  • Either tense can be used when stating something like that. When there is an audience, asking questions of a person, they might use either.
    – Lambie
    Oct 28 '21 at 20:14
  • What do you think I have a question means? Oct 28 '21 at 20:42
  • Lucian, as far as I know, "I have a question" means "I have a question on my mind. The question is mine, not somebody else's". If I want to answer a question which somebody else asked me, I can't say "I have a question", can I?
    – yunus
    Oct 29 '21 at 5:47
  • Yes, you can! It can mean either I have received a question from the audience and now I'm going to answer it, or I'm going to address you [the audience] a question. Remember: context is everything! Oct 29 '21 at 16:35

It has two meanings, you are right.

From the provided context, it is quite obvious that the teacher used the second (2) meaning; saying:

I had a question.

as a mental "shortcut"; an implicit way of saying:

I had been asked a question.

The other meaning: past tense version of "I have a question", makes no sense in this context because it would imply that the teacher had a question in the past, but no longer has a question in the present (because it had been already answered).


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