In several stackexchange areas, I have seen posts like this, where database design is just for the sake of example.

I have a doubt concerning database design.

Where I would have said

I have a question concerning database design.

Is one of the meanings of "doubt" the same as "question" for some English speaking people? I've looked in the dictionary definition and haven't seen anything like it. It's possible that only non native speakers use this.

This is not a question about learning English. There might be an interesting question there, but I just want to know if it's native English or not.

  • 1
    The two words are not nearly synonyms, though often non-native English speakers use "doubt" when they mean "question". It would make sense to say "I have a doubt concerning this database design", but, lacking any context to imply a specific design that's doubtful, the usage is not idiomatic.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 19, 2020 at 19:41
  • In the first example, the doubt would be a possible problem with the design of a particular database, or about the validity and usefulness of databases in general. The second example is probably asking how some aspect is covered, or engineered. Jan 19, 2020 at 19:44
  • In either case, the actual question will follow, as questions are de rigeur on such sites. The fact that two sentences can be swapped over virtually at will does not mean that they have identical meanings. Sometimes, "Please help me" is the precursor instead. It usually gets edited out on ELU. But here, obviously, both boil down to "I'm not certain about the following issue", which is a valid precursor for a question. // "I have some doubts concerning database design" may elsewhere precede "which is why I intend to enrol on a course". Jan 19, 2020 at 19:46
  • @WeatherVane et al - I work with a lot of people originally from India, many of whom use "doubt" to mean "question" when they are simply asking for information, not necessarily in connection with possible problems or "doubt" in the sense that UK/US/Aus English speakers use the word. It's a quirk of Indian English.
    – nnnnnn
    Jan 20, 2020 at 0:07

1 Answer 1


The word doubt can mean question in Indian English.

This usage comes from the days when England first colonized India; it is now archaic in the U.S. and the U.K., but is still widespread in India.

From the O.E.D.:

  1. A matter or point involved in uncertainty; a doubtful question; a difficulty. Obsolete.
  • yes but it is not just a matter of Indian English... the usage is highly prevelant among English learners (and/or ESL speakers) whose native language is one of several romance languages Jan 19, 2020 at 22:52
  • @ArmthegoodguysinAmerica - When some English learners use "doubt" like this it is just a mistake, but with Indian English it's part of the dialect.
    – nnnnnn
    Jan 19, 2020 at 23:56

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