According to dictionaries, especially in American English, people say "we have a situation here" when they have "an important or sudden problem".

I am not a native speaker so I can speak for what I know. That is I often hear American people say "we/I have a situation here" for problems relating to bathroom.

For example, a man went into a public toilet and after he was done he realized that there is no toilet paper in there. So, he cried "I have a bit of a situation here".

Or a man is currently on a bus and suddenly he wants to use the bathroom but there is no bathroom on the bus. So he cried "I have a situation here".

Do we say "we have a situation here!" for big serious problems in American English?

For example, many soldiers were killed in the ambush and only one soldier survived and made it to the military base.

Can he say to the general there "We have a situation here!"?

Also, what do British people say in these situations?

  • 1
    Ha! Yeah, using it for bathroom stuff is kind of humorous overstatement. I wouldn't use it to the general in your example, because a "situation" in this expression is usually a problem that needs attention. In your example, the situation is kind of over since everyone's dead. Also, it wouldn't be "here."
    – cruthers
    Jul 29 at 2:13

2 Answers 2


Yes. Think, for example, of a detective or cop discovering a crime scene and reporting it.

They could say something like

We have a situation here; call the forensics team.

Although, you could remove the here. For example,

So... we have a situation, I've lost my wallet. Do you have any cash?

We have a situation. It seems the car broke, so we cannot get to the hotel tonight.

I have a situation, I lost my ticket and cannot enter the concert.


I can answer your last part about British English:

You can simply replace "situation" with "problem" or "issue"

Colloquially, we like saying "I've got a bit of a problem." Technically, this might suggest that we only have one section or part of a problem, which doesn't make sense, but in general that's just a gentle, mild mannered way of saying "I've got a problem."

You can still say "I've got a problem" or "There seems to be an issue," or you can simply cut straight to what the problem is and it won't seem curt or rude.

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