Is this phrase used at all by native speakers? After almost 20 years of studying and speaking English, I've been told this is a phrase that almost every Czech speaker gets wrong - it seems that even my university english teachers got it wrong, which is mindblowing to me. The fact that I did not get this corrected by anyone during my whole life makes it very surreal - "Can I ask a question?" sounds correct to me, however "Can I have a question?" feels better.

Is this phrase really incorrect? How foreign does it sound to a native speaker?

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    When you have a question, you already possess it. You've got it in your hands. When you want other people to weigh in on it, you then ask it.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 19:17
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    Can I has cheezburger?
    – A.S.
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 19:42
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    “Can I ask a question?” means there is something you don’t know, and you’re asking for permission to ask someone else about it. “Can I have a question?” means you are inviting other people to ask you a question, presuming that you are likely to know the answer. Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 16:00
  • As a native speaker from Texas, I usually say “I have a question” or “does anybody have any questions”. Never heard anyone take issue with this.
    – Elliott B
    Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 13:23

2 Answers 2


No, this is not a phrase that any native speaker would use, and yes it is incorrect. One would either say "I have a question" or "May / Can I ask a question" instead.

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    'Can I have a question?' makes sense if there is a quiz master with many questions to ask of contestants. If one of the contestants is feeling left out they might ask this question. Precisely this usage has come up recently in one of the Republican debates I think.
    – Dan
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 0:08
  • "Can I ask a question?" always seemed paradoxical to me. I like "I have a question." much better but I hardly ever hear it. Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 2:52

"Can I ask a question?" is commonly said, but better still is "May I ask a question?" "Can" generally refers to having the ability to do something, whereas "may" is a way of asking permission to do something. This is a fine point that is becoming less of an issue in English speaking (many avoid "may" because it is also used to mean "perhaps," and in certain contexts could be confusing), but I've never heard any native English speaker say, "Can I have a question?"

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    Thanks for the contribution, but ultimately the bulk of your answer is addressing a question which wasn't asked. Might be better to delete this and offer your final sentence ("I've never heard a native English speaker...") as a comment.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 19:52
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    yikes. I'd forgotten why I've given up on this site. Thanks for the reminder
    – user66965
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 21:27

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