The difference between 出问题 (chū wèn​tí) and 有问题 (yǒu wèn​tí)

You may have seen both 有问题 and 出问题 in Chinese, both are often translated to mean “has a problem” or “has a fault”, however there is a difference in meaning. Consider the following phrases:

wǒ de chē yǒu wèn​tí.

My car has a problem

wǒ de chē chū wèn​tí.

My car has a problem / Something went wrong with my car / My car has gone wrong

Both of these can be roughly translated to mean “my car has a problem”, however chū (chū) gives the meaning that the subject of the sentence is giving off a problem, that something has gone wrong with it.

In contrast consider the following example:

tā yǒu wèn​tí.

He has a problem / He has a question.

Here yǒuwèn (yǒu wèn​tí) gives the meaning that the subject has a problem, that is some kind of difficulty they’re facing, or otherwise that he has a question.

You can’t however substitute yǒu (yǒu) with chū (chū), so the following is incorrect:

tā chū wèn​tí.

Somethings gone wrong with her.

The above doesn’t make sense, because something hasn’t gone wrong with a person in the same way that it goes wrong with a car, appliance or other inanimate or non-living objects. You similarly wouldn’t say that your mother, dog or teacher chūwèn (chū wèn​tí).

The rule of thumb to remember is that chūwèn (chū wèn​tí) refers to things which have gone wrong or broken down in some way, but isn’t suitable when used to refer to people or animals.