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I've been searching for the answer for quite a long time and I'm still confused about these sentences:

A. I have school tomorrow. (it would mean it is scheduled)

B. I'm having school tomorrow. (?)

C. I'm going to have school tomorrow. (it looks like I will have)

Can example B mean that usually I don't have school tomorrow but it's been decided by my school that the classes will take place? Can I use Present Continuous in that case?

  • Yes you can. The present continuous (also called the present progressive) is used to indicate a plan or arrangement. Here, it's the school that has planned or arranged for the school to have classes tomorrow. You can also use the same sentence B to mean that you always have school the next day, as in I'm having school tomorrow because we always have school on Fridays. Note, some English speakers might not use a stative verb such as to have with the progressive, but in these sentences it is fine to me. – AmE speaker May 26 '17 at 15:51
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First, I'll replace "school" with "a party" in your sentences.

D. I have a party tomorrow.

E. I'm having a party tomorrow.

F. I'm going to have a party tomorrow.

These are all fine. In D, we don't know who the host is. In E and F, I'm definitely the host. E sounds a bit more definite and immediate than F.

But when the thing I'm having tomorrow is "school," the situation is slightly different. I would never use your sentence B ("I'm having school tomorrow"), because the decision to hold school or not is up to the person who runs the school, and that person wouldn't use the verb "have," since "have school" only fits for the passive people, who don't decide when to hold school, i.e. the teachers and the students.

Clarification:

(In comparison, "I'm having class tomorrow" would be fine for the teacher to say, because the decision to hold or cancel the one class would be under the teacher's control.)

  • Well, the analogous We're having class tomorrow is natural (real world example) ... There's certainly no need for the speaker to be the planner of the event: Matt's having a party tomorrow but I'm not going. The Yankees are playing the Red Sox tomorrow. – AmE speaker May 28 '17 at 17:48
  • @Clare - I agree, "I'm having class tomorrow" is fine. It's just "I'm having school tomorrow" that's slightly weird. I was thinking about that when I planned my answer and then forgot to mention it. I will edit my answer. – aparente001 May 28 '17 at 18:44
  • A simple Google Book search for "having school tomorrow" returns plenty of native speaker results, many/most with a first person subject. – AmE speaker May 28 '17 at 19:13
  • @Clare - I tried googling the phrase on your suggestion, and did see people using that phrase, although not so often with the first person singular. I did also see some people who were also bothered with the phrasing "Are we having school tomorrow?" Bottom line, you've got some good ideas about this question -- why not go ahead and put them in an answer? – aparente001 May 28 '17 at 21:07

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