Can you please tell me if both sentences below are perfectly natural and have the same meaning?

I can't visit you today as I have an emergency.

I can't visit you today as I'm having an emergency.

I've seen people use both, but I haven't been able to find any difference in meaning on the internet.

1 Answer 1


There isn't a strong difference and in most cases you could either. One difference is that the present continuous "I'm having an emergency" usually emphasises something that is ongoing and happening now, for instance if you're currently sheltering from a tropical storm or you're looking after a sick child or you're stuck at the side of the road with a flat tire. The simple present tense "I have an emergency" can be used of something that is happening in the future or something that happened in the past but have to deal with now or in the future. It's fine to say "I can't come tonight because I have an emergency", if your childminder has suddenly cancelled or you have to go do something later but nothing bad is happening now, but it would be less common to say "I'm having an emergency" unless bad things are happening now.

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