I have difficulty in responding to a closed thread [grammar dispute (ed. title)]

The thread “We have difficulty locating a(n) MS representative.” has been closed, so I can’t resond in it to an odd side issue raised in it. So I’m responding in GD: if that’s the wrong forum, a mod can move it to wherever is better (as long as it’s not the BBQ pit).

Sorry, but “We have difficulty doing something” is perfectly good English. It specifies the time (it’s the present – but not the continuous present of “we are having”). Who “we” is depends on context, but it might be the firm that the speaker is working for – it does not necessarily include to perrson being addressed. It may be that some people not completely fluent with English tenses might use this form confusing it with another, but in some contexts it’s perfectly correct, e.g.:

Every time that I ring up the local MS office, I get put on hold. When I go to their website, there’s no way of finding who to contact. Every one else in my office has the same problems. So we have great difficulty locating an MS representative,

I have to admit, I don’t understand the objection, either. If one wants to slice to definitions particularly fine, I see “We have difficulty with Task X” suggesting Task X is something we do on a regular basis and anticipate continuing to do so in future (albeit with difficultly) because no better alternative exists.

If we had given up on Task X and had no anticipation of trying it again, and someone asked us to give it another shot, I can imagine saying “We have had difficulty with Task X”, to indicate we have stopped doing Task X because it was difficult and if we try it now, we can anticipate that difficulty will still be present, or if advising someone else who is contemplating Task X, we tell him when we used to do it, we had difficulty with it, by way of warning.

And if he gives you grief, point out how he misspelled “dilemma”.

To nitpick myself, “we have had difficulty with Task X” indicates we have stopped doing Task X, though not necessarily because it was difficult. We could have stopped doing Task X for any number of reasons.

When we were doing it, though, it was difficult.