Problem vs. Trouble

Problem vs. Trouble

Problems are a part of our life no matter how we feel about the fact. So, we often have to speak about them, and our choice of topic today is dictated by this necessity. First of all, let’s see what exactly a problem is.


  1. A problem is a situation, person or thing that needs attention and needs to be dealt with or solved:

The main problem of this region is unemployment. (We need to deal with the situation.)

I don’t want to be a problem. (I don’t want to be a person who needs much attention and is difficult to deal with.)

2. A problem is something that has a bad effect on your health/behavior:

He’s had an alcohol problem for years.

Children’s behavior problems stem from unmet needs, according to the psychologist.


  1. Trouble means certain difficulties:

The tax form was complicated and I had a lot of trouble with it. (It was difficult to fill in the form.)

She got through her exams without too much trouble. (It wasn’t difficult for her to do it.)

Thus, trouble can also mean a problem or problems because if something is difficult, you’re in a situation you have to deal with or solve. So, you could say, “The tax form was complicated I had a problem filling it in” and “She got through her exams without any problems.”

2. (A) trouble is a situation in which people argue or fight:

The trouble (argument) started when she started accusing him.

There was crows trouble (fight) at the stadium.

3. Trouble is a situation in which you experience problems because of something you have done wrong or badly:

He’s in trouble with his teachers because he has been rude to most of them. (His rudeness has lead to this problem, this is his mistake, the cause of the problem.)

You’ll be in big trouble if you take my car. (If you do this, your action will cause problems.)

4. A dangerous situation is trouble rather than a problem:

I’m afraid he’s in trouble and needs our help as soon as possible.

He got into trouble after he’d got into bad company.

5. Trouble is a health problem:

My family has a history of heart trouble.

She’s been having a bit of trouble with her eyes.

6. And last but not least, trouble can mean inconvenience:

I don’t mean to cause you any trouble. (I don’t mean to cause you any inconvenience, slight problems.)

I’d love some more orange juice if it’s not too much trouble. – It’s no trouble at all. (It’s not inconvenient.)


situation/person/thing to deal with problem1) I’ve got a problem. My German is not good enough to work in this place. 2) The problem is Jake, whose bad attitude ruins everyone’s mood. 3) This building has become a huge problem – it has a leaking roof. We’d better fix it as soon as possible.
1) I’m having some trouble/problem with this new device. 2) The trouble/problem started when we moved house.
health issueproblem
1) This clinic deals with the drug problem. 2) When did the knee trouble begin?
fighting, violence, bad behaviortroubleThere’s been a lot of trouble in the neighborhood recently.
situation in which you might be criticized/punishedtroubleI’ll be in trouble if I don’t do what he wants.
dangerous situationtroubleHe didn’t come home last night and he could be in trouble now.
inconvenience troubleThank you for taking the trouble to reply.
Don’t trouble trouble until trouble troubles you. An English proverb

Countable or uncountable?

Problem is always a countable noun. As for trouble, when it means problems (difficulties), it can be both countable and uncountable:

The tax form was complicated and I had a lot of trouble with it. (I had much difficulty in general.)

The tax form was complicated and I had a lot of troubles with it. (I had a lot of difficulties, particular things that were not easy.)

When trouble means fights and/or violence, it can also be either countable or uncountable:

I used to make a lot of trouble at school.

The Troubles were an ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland.

In the other situations, trouble is uncountable:

My Grandma has had hearing trouble for years.

He took the trouble to respond to each and every request.

I’m in trouble. Can you help me?

I’ll be in trouble if they find out I’m often late.

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