Question vs. Doubt

I often hear students say

I have a doubt.

when they really mean

I have a question.

A doubt is NOT a question.
A doubt is a lack of belief that something is true or that something will happen.

A question is NOT a doubt.
A question is an interrogatory statement (a question) that seeks information.

Seeking information (questions) can strengthen your beliefs (remove your doubts) about something.

Is he coming? I doubt it.
(I believe he is NOT coming. I could be wrong; he may come, but I believe he will NOT.)

He is coming without a doubt.
(I believe 100% that he IS coming. He will not fail. He WILL come.)


I am in my car driving to work. My wife is sitting beside me.

Wife: Did you lock the front door when we left?

Me: Well, I thought I did but now that you asked me, I…can’t remember doing it. Darn it! You have placed a doubt in my mind.

Before she asked, I believed that I had locked the door.

After she asked, I began to doubt. I suddenly did NOT believe that I had locked the door.

She planted a seed of doubt in my mind that caused my belief of Yes to become a belief of No.


Lee: Engineer, I have a question for you. Are you unemployed right now?
(I am seeking information — an answer of yes or no in this case.)

Eng: Er, um, well, in point of fact, Lee, yes! I lost my job yesterday and I was too ashamed
to tell you about it.

Lee: Don’t worry, Eng. I have no doubt that, with your skills and (cough) handsome face,
you’ll get another job very soon.
(I believe 100% that he WILL get a job soon.)

Eng: Lee, I have a question for you.
(He is seeking information — a yes or no answer in this case.)

Lee: Yes, Eng.

Eng: Can I, er, uh, come over for dinner tonight?
I, um, er, uh, don’t have any money to buy food.

Eng: Um, also, Lee, can you NOT tell anyone I’m unemployed right now.
It’s, uh, kind of embarrassing.

Lee: Don’t worry, Eng. My lips are sealed. It’ll be our little secret.

Lee: (Thinking to himself. Oh, yeah, I’m going to put this on Facebook tonight. Woo hoo!)


Do you have any questions?

Is there any doubt (lack of belief) in your mind that you understand the difference now?

  • Do you believe 100% that you understand the difference (you have no doubts)?
  • If you only believe 80% that you understand the difference then you have doubts in your mind, and you need to ask more questions to get more information to remove your doubts.)

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