5

I would like to check if my idea is correct. It sounds to me as if the first is when one has a question to be asked, while the second means the person is not sure.

Here are two cases:

  1. In a classroom a student raises their hand(The teacher didn't ask anything):

    • I have a doubt. What's ... ?
    • I'm in doubt. What's ....?
  2. The teacher asks that same student what is the answer for a question (The student doesn't know it and has nothing to ask):

    • I have a doubt.
    • I'm in doubt.

"I have a doubt" prepares the field for a question to come. That's why we use defined article "a", we know what is our doubt. I'm in doubt means one hasn't got the answer. So answering "I have a doubt" in the 1st case is better while "I'm in doubt" is better in the second.

migrated from english.stackexchange.com May 26 '16 at 19:59

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  • 1
    Usually, when an ESL speaker says "I have a doubt", they mean "I have a question". "I have a doubt" suggests that you don't believe what the teacher just said. – Hot Licks May 14 '16 at 12:02
  • 3
    You should probably strike the word doubt from your vocabulary, because it does not mean what you seem to think it means in English. – tchrist May 14 '16 at 13:53
  • 9
    "I have a doubt" when used to mean "I have a question" is quintessential Indian English. It is not acceptable in British or American English (and I personally wouldn't consider it proper English under any circumstances). – Deepak May 14 '16 at 14:07
  • 1
    Using I have a doubt to incorrectly mean I have a question is also used by native speakers of Spanish and Italian–and probably of Portuguese and other Romance languages. – Alan Carmack May 26 '16 at 21:48
6

In American English, I have a doubt is fairly uncommon. It is more common to say the following:

I doubt that very much.

I have my doubts.

I have doubts about the solution.

Using "doubt" as verb is commonplace, as well as using the plural noun "doubts."

As @Deepak commented, I have a doubt may be a common phrase in Indian English. As he suggests, you should just use I have a question if you're speaking American English. More info here: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/2429/can-doubt-sometimes-mean-question

To be in doubt suggests a state of mind, implying that the author is doing some thinking and is in an ongoing process of doubting something.

5

I have a doubt does not mean I have a question.

If you are in doubt about something, it means you are not sure of the answer or solution. Or you doubt the validity of some issue. But in English you do not say I have a doubt... as a prelude to asking a question. You say I have a question... as a prelude to asking a question.

You ask a question relevant to your doubt about some subject. You can say I'm in doubt about... as a prelude, if you want. But native English speakers would much more likely say I'm not sure about...

In English, we ask questions when we are in doubt, or when we doubt something. In English we don't normally say or think I have a doubt.

I know in some cases this is first language interference, because speakers of Romance languages such as Italian, Spanish, and apparently Portuguese actually do say (in their language) the equivalent of I have a doubt, but this translates poorly to English.

There is an expression, no doubt about it, which indicates that one has not a single doubt about some issue.

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