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I use Stackoverflow a lot and have noticed a certain trend that I myself got caught up in at one time of using the phrase "I am having a problem" in place of "I have a problem."

I would use this phrase for an event in the future "I am having a steak dinner tonight," but for a problem that I need solved and am asking for a solution, I'd use "I have a problem..."

What would force us to use this phrase? Is it even valid English for the present tense?

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3 Answers 3

"I am having a problem" sounds more like the speaker is talking about a current and recent ongoing process, which is probably why it tends to show up on SO. "I have a problem" also has an idiomatic usage meaning the speaker is objecting to something, which isn't a meaning that occurs with "I am having a problem".

It's perfectly valid; it is the present participle.

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Ah, I see. That's some very useful information I hadn't considered :) Thanks for the link. –  Kyle Sevenoaks Feb 28 '11 at 8:46

From my observation, I think that Indian English uses the present progressive in a number of cases where other Englishes do not. "I am having a problem" or "I am facing a problem" is a phrase I have often seen in posts from people in India, on this site and elsewhere.

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To me, "I am having a problem" implies that I expect a resolution to it. (Hopefully from responses to my post!). If I "have a problem", I"m not so certain that I will.

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