Problem vs Trouble - What is the "exact" difference between these 2 words?

What is the difference between these 2 words?

I know that there are a lot of idiomatic phrases that typically use TROUBLE:

- It would be no trouble at all,

- sorry to have troubled you, etc...

But when using it in business situations, sometimes "problem" is the better word to use.

-- This machine has many problems in it. --> OK

-- This machine has many troubles in it. --> Sounds a bit strange...

Both have countable noun counterparts:

- problem and problems/trouble and troubles

Both are nouns

- His problems are difficult to solve

- Her troubles are simplistic

Trouble can be used as a verb but problem cannot.

- This mistake troubles me.

Anyone have a viable answer to understand the difference, especially in regards to the question above??

-- This machine has many problems in it. --> OK

-- This machine has many troubles in it. --> HUH???

3 Answers

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  • k8kay
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I pretty much agree with your general analysis, but your specific example is …troublesome.

    A machine doesn't have problems "in it." Hence, you can still use either word:

    This machine has many problems.

    This machine has many troubles.

    I have many problems with this machine.

    I have many troubles with this machine.

    There are problems with this machine.

    There are troubles with this machine.

    So I'm not sure there is an EXACT difference between the two. They are generally interchangeable.

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  • 4 years ago

    Trouble is issues in the problem.

    The problem is my car won't start, the trouble is I can't drive my car. (Issues...i.e. "Trouble" I'm late for an appointment.)

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I'm going to try to explaining this using the examples you provided

    When 'problem' is used it refers to a situation that will eventually require or come to a conclusion. It is more appropriately used to refer to physical or tangible deficiencies/faults

    'Trouble' usually refers to situations that are more emotional/spiritual/psychological in nature; intangible deficiencies.

    Source(s): What I learned in school
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