Confusable Words: Have/catch a cold
I hear this confusion very often. Any disease, sickness, condition uses the word “have”, and not, as Japanese generally think, “is/are/am”. For example, I often hear someone say, wrongly, “He is cancer.” This should be “He has cancer.” This error creates a very horrible image in English, and saying that someone IS cancer means that there is nothing else to say about that person except one word: cancer. So, the same goes for minor illnesses: “He has a cold.”
“Catch” is only the start of the cold, or other viral sickness, just like catching a ball. After you catch a ball, you no longer say “I catch a ball,” but “I’ve caught a ball,” or “I have a ball (in my hand)”.
The correct sentence is one of the following: “I have a cold,” “I’ve caught a cold,” or “I caught a cold yesterday.”
The only situation where you can use the present tense, “I catch”, is in this situation: “I catch a cold about twice a year.”