I have so far used 'have problem -ing...' But today I came across a sentence using 'have a problem -ing.' If you don't add '-ing,' you may say like "I have a problem. Could you help me out?" But if you add it as in "These days, small companies have problem finding young and bright workers," you wouldn't use 'a' before 'problem,' would you?
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Hello Komountain

Just a tip about the usage frequencies on Google.
(1) I have problem paying … : 52 hits
(2) I have a problem paying … : 775 hits
(3) I have problems paying … : 266 hits
(4) I have problem with paying … : 35 hits
(5) I have a problem with paying … : 574 hits
(6) I have problems with paying … : 89 hits
I believe the most formal collocation is #5.


Hi, Paco.

Thank you for your tips.

I am a bit surprised that my favorite ranks low in the list.

My habitual usage has been either 'have problem -ing' or 'have a problem/problems with N(not gerund).'

Other comments are welcome.
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Still waiting for comments from teachers.
Just to bring this thread back to front page in an attempt to increase chances of getting attention.
Hello Professor KM

I regret nobody except me has posted answers to your question. I am afraid my posting might have worked as a hindrance.

By the way I have a feeling your favorite version would be unacceptable in standard English. It is because lexically "problem" is a countable noun.


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I recognize as incorrect only nos. 1 and 4.

I can think of very few circumstances where 'I have problem' would be grammatically correct. Here's one example: 'I have problem no. 33 to work on as an assignment for tomorrow.' But that's a very limited use, and means something quite different than the type of examples above. The singular 'problem' takes 'a' or 'the'. The plural 'problems' does not.
You are right, Paco. The word 'problem' is definitely a countable noun. That's why when I first encountered the expression 'have x problem -ing,' perhaps decades ago, I thought it's a rather unusual construction. This peculiarity compelled me to memorize the expression by rote then. Along the way, the eccentricity, if you will, seemed to have been supported by the sentences I occasionally came across. Here is another sentence retrieved from my personal data. If my memory serves me right, the sentence was taken from either a newspaper or a magazine.

Small- and medium-sized businesses have problem getting people to work for them.

If it's a typo, the case is settled.

(p.s.: Remember I always enjoy reading your posts.)


Thank you for your comments. Can't the indefinite article 'a' be an optional item in this particular construction? Well, it could have derived from its analogy, in terms of both construction and meaning, to the expression 'have difficulty -ing' where 'a' is not used.
Hello Komountain

I made a Google survey "have ? problem(s) getting people to --". The result is as below:
have a problem getting people to -- : 1200
have problems getting people to -- : 604
have problem getting people to -- : 9
I'm sorry I can't help you much about this question.

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