Consider the following usage of the word trouble:

  1. I have trouble.

  2. I have a trouble.

  3. I have troubles.

  4. I have the trouble.

  5. I have the troubles.

Which is grammatical? And what is the preferred usage?

closed as general reference by Matt E. Эллен, Urbycoz, MetaEd, tchrist, Daniel Oct 4 '12 at 18:17

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    This is very similar to another question you found troubling you: english.stackexchange.com/questions/74645/… – Andrew Leach Jul 16 '12 at 9:49
  • Please never just ask “Which is correct?” It shows no effort on your part, and gives us nothing to go on. As the Help Center says in its “How to ask a good question” section: “Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and above all, it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!” Thank you. – tchrist Jul 4 '14 at 2:13

None of your examples is likely to occur as such in isolation and the exact form used would vary with context. For example, trouble can be used with the progressive form of have to produce a sentence such as ‘I’m having a lot of trouble with that.' When it is used with the present tense of have it describes a continuing state, as in ‘I have a lot of trouble remembering people’s names.’


No 1., no.2 and no.3 are grammatical and mean that you have a problem or problems if put in context.

'Well, then, I have a trouble,' said Dalton quickly; 'and I have no objection to reveal its nature to you—provided that it goes no farther. If it was to be known , I should lose, for one thing, my self-respect.

Like you, I have troubles of my own.

Like you, I have trouble of my own.

As @PeterShor suggested, I have trouble seems to be more common than the other versions.

As @BarrieEngland suggested, you could also use trouble with both the present and progressive form of the verb have.

I am having troubles reading aloud these days.

I have troubles reading aloud.

That said, this is not the only usage of the word trouble. There are several idiomatic and phrasal uses of the subject word. For example you could:

ask for trouble, run into trouble, look for trouble, etc.

  • Why the down vote? – Noah Jul 16 '12 at 11:09
  • 1
    No. 1 is perfectly good grammar. In fact, I consider trouble to be usually uncountable, so in some sense it's better than Nos. 2 and 3. (Although there are certainly countable uses of trouble, so Nos. 2 and 3 are indeed fine grammatically.) Here is an Ngram: "I have trouble" is by far the most common of the three expressions. – Peter Shor Jul 16 '12 at 12:26
  • @PeterShor- Thank you for pointing that out. I should have included that in my answer. I'll update it based on your comments. – Noah Jul 16 '12 at 12:36
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    @PeterShor: I disagree. Possibly that first example would have passed muster when it was written (1876), but imho it's seriously "marked" today. I also think "having troubles [doing sth]" is hopelessly non-standard – FumbleFingers Jul 16 '12 at 17:31

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