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"I have an emergency up here" vs "I have an emergency in here"? Which one is idiomatic and what's the difference exactly? Are they pretty much the same? I feel you can use either of them in most situation. Is this the case, why?

For example:

"Hello, is this 911? I have an emergency up here."

"Hello, is this 911? I have an emergency in here."

  • You called 911. They know you "have an emergency". – Michael Harvey Jun 29 at 23:13
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mkennedy is right about what the 911 operator says when you call them.

So you don't need to worry about your prepositions when calling 911, the dispatcher will get them under control for you.

However, for other situations when emergencies (or any other things) occur, you might say either, "I have an emergency up here" or "I have an emergency in here". Or it might be "out here" or "over here", or something else. It all depends on your location relative to the person you are talking to.

If you are in somewhere (like a train car, a bank vault, a prison, or a classroom for example), then it could be idiomatic to use "in here". "Up here" would be for "up" locations (like maybe a ski lift, the top floor of a building, a helicopter, or maybe somewhere in the Far North, ... or even northern Illinois, if you are talking to someone in southern Illinois).

It is not necessary to use any kind of prepositional phrase in order to be idiomatic though. Simply "I have an emergency," or "there is an emergency," are both idiomatic.

  • I thought "up here" was like "right here". – blackbird Jun 29 at 22:06
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    In USA English, no: "Up here" really does mean "up". Is it possibly different in other types of English? ... I don't think so, but then, I'm no expert on British English either. – Lorel C. Jun 29 at 22:16
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    Not in British English, unless, like has been said, you are atop a pole or something, and even then, it would seem pointless to say "up here" (or even "right here") to an emergency operator. – Michael Harvey Jun 29 at 23:15
  • Having said that, I have seen, more than once, in computer help forums, when some American people can't think of a suitable topic title or heading, they type "Help needed over here". – Michael Harvey Jun 29 at 23:18
  • Blackbird, "up here" does not mean the same as "right here". – Michael Harvey Jun 29 at 23:19
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Neither one of those is idiomatic in American English. The operator will answer a call with something like, "9-1-1 operator. What is your emergency?" You would normally respond and state what the problem is:

"There's been a car accident."

"I think I'm having a heart attack."

"I need help!"

and so on. The operator will then ask for your name, location/address, and other information.

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