Native English speakers, could you please help me with these issues?

1. Are these sentences correct:

a) "I'm not sure if the country went through a civil war, but there were for sure some serious INTERNAL problems."

b) "I'm not sure if the country went through a civil war, but there were for sure some serious INTERNAL issues."

2. Does 'issue' mean the same as 'problem', and is the former a more formal word?

3 Answers

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  • Anonymous
    1 month ago
    Best Answer

    "I'm not sure WHETHER the country went through a civil war, but there were DEFINITELY some serious DOMESTIC problems."

    Whether is more formal than if, if that is your goal.

    Better not to repeat 'sure', and 'for sure' is much too informal.

    Issue does not mean the same as problem. In this case, 'problems' would be more serious than 'issues,' but neither is particularly formal or informal. If a country was almost at the point of civil war, clearly more than mere 'issues' were at stake.

    Domestic is the formal word to use here. A country can have problems in foreign or domestic policies, or both, as in the case of the United States in the era of Trump.

    Interesting comment by John P. : "In modern times many people do not like to use the word 'problems'; it makes things sound too difficult!" Maybe the use of 'management-speak' and a desire to pretend things are easy partially explain why the UK is currently in such a head-in-the-sand political mess with Brexit and other economic problems. Shades of Orwell and even H.G. Wells !

  • 1 month ago

    Anonymous is wrong. If you put "whether" in there, then you need "or not" somewhere in the sentence, preferably after "civil war." Both or your statement are correct as they are. There is nothing wrong with "problems" and it can mean the same as "issues."

  • John P
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    In modern times many people do not like to use the word "problems" - it makes things sound too difficult! So other words such as "issues" or "challenges" are used instead. Part of the vocabulary of "managementspeak"!

    By the way - "for sure" is mostly American, not used nearly so much in Britain in relatively formal contexts such as you quote. I would use: "...but there were certainly some serious....".

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