Spanish speakers often say that "they have doubts" when they really want to say that "they have a question." But it stresses a native English speaker out when you get them the two confused. Let's break down what the difference is between the two.
Getting "question" and "doubt" confused is a common problem for Spanish speakers who are learning English.
If you ever have a question, I've got an answer. But if you have a doubt, I will think you won't believe me. And that's not good.
So it's time to stop translating "Tengo duda" to "I have a doubt." You're only making the native speaker you're talking to feel stressed.
What you really want to say is, "I have a question."
Let's break down what the difference is between the two.
Questions are neither positive nor negative. They are simply asking someone about something.
For instance, "I have a question about whether or not Jen and Brad are dating." In this case, you want more information about Jen and Brad, but it's neither good nor bad, you're simply requesting more information.
However, in English, a doubt is negative. If you have doubts, you are not sure about something and don't believe that it's true.
For instance, you could say, "I have doubts that Jen is really dating Brad." This means that you don't believe that Jen and Brad are dating.
3. Pro Tip
If you say "I have a doubt" or "I have doubts" to a native English speaker, they will think you are being negative and don't believe what they are saying.
In that case, it is always better to say, "I have a question." This keeps your request for more information without any implication of negativity or disbelief.
Do you have other words that you get confused about that you'd like to add to the list? Share in the comments and you may see a blog post or video about it soon.
Meanwhile, in my private Facebook group for English learners, I share some tips to help you differentiate between these commonly confused words. Then you're sure to improve your English quickly.
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Jackie Donaldson is the founder and director of Amidon Studios Language Studies. She started Amidon Studios in 2017 after managing a language institute in Lima, Peru for six years. She's taught students from all over the world while living in Peru, Mexico, and the U.S. When she's not working or studying, you'll find her gardening, playing with her cat Frankie, swimming, baking, and exploring the globe.