Consider the following:

I ran into a problem and will be staying here[in this house, this room, etc.] for a couple more days.

I ran into a problem and am staying here[in this house, this room, etc.] for a couple more days.

Now, when would one use one over the other?

  • The sentences are both ungrammatical. – Elberich Schneider Sep 1 '12 at 7:46
  • ... second sentence seems to reduce the salience of the statement for the present! +1, anyway! – Elberich Schneider Sep 1 '12 at 8:43

Barrie England's answer is unobjectionable. It's "standard": if you follow the rule it describes you will never be misunderstood or excite a sense of oddity in your interlocutors; and you will enjoy the approbation of well-regarded authorities.

That said, I think it's mistaken. I believe this is a case where people who have a profound interest in usage feel there ought to be some subtle difference between these constructions, and have accordingly shaped a rule which makes sense to them and guides their own usage.

There's nothing wrong with that; but my (admittedly unsystematic) observation suggests that at least in unemphatic contexts all the future-modal constructions occur entirely at random—not only those you ask about, I'm/I am staying and I'll/I will be staying but I'm/I am going to be staying and I'll/I will stay as well.

Any of these may be used with perfect propriety to "make a prediction" or to "talk about future plans and arrangements". None conveys a greater or lesser degree of certainty or intention (those may, to be sure, be communicated by selecting an uncontracted form and stressing the auxiliary).

In answer to your question "When would one use one over the other?" I would say "Whenever you feel like it."

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    Barrie England's answer is also about British English (except, wouldn't that be I shall be staying...?). Very few native speakers of American would say I've run into a problem. Usually, American speakers say I ran into a problem. I agree with you about seeing no semantic difference and no emotional or predictive nuance between the two statements. They are equivalent to me, and I've been to MO only once. – user21497 Sep 1 '12 at 12:14
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    @Huizhe I disagree about I've run/I ran - I use the first frequently of 'active' problems ("Brad, I've run into a problem - can we put the meeting off til 2:00?"). I would probably use the latter only if I were concerned to locate the eruption temporally in the past, or if the problem had been resolved ("I ran into a problem this morning but we're ready to go now"). – StoneyB on hiatus Sep 1 '12 at 12:48
  • You're a professional writer, aren't you? I'm an English teacher, a linguist, and an editor. I wouldn't call our English usage typical -- nor would I claim that it's similar, because I haven't read much that you've written here. I think it's standard fare in the Linguistics trade that BrE speakers tend to use present perfect where AmE speakers tend to use simple past. If John Lawler sees this and finds it worth commenting on, I'm sure he'll be able to verify whether my claim is correct. I learned this about 30 years ago, so things may have changed. But maybe I misheard. – user21497 Sep 1 '12 at 13:38
  • @Huizhe You may be right; my idiolect is what my voice teacher in graduate school called 'mid-Atlantic'! But the case where the problem persists in some sense into the present would move cisatlantic speakers towards the perfect ... though what they'd probably say is I've got! – StoneyB on hiatus Sep 1 '12 at 15:29
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    @Huizhe: the simple past is certainly pretty common in American speech, and feels more natural to me, but the perfect is fine, too. As StoneyB suggests, either one is fine, and depends on how one feels more than anything else. My own guess is that metric considerations are more important than semantic ones in choosing. – John Lawler Sep 1 '12 at 17:04

In the first clause of each it makes more sense to say I’ve run into a problem.

Will followed by be staying makes a prediction. It describes something we know or expect will happen. Am followed by staying is used to talk about future plans and arrangements, but it allows a degree of flexibility over what might actually happen. (Adapted from ‘An A-Z of English Grammar and Usage’ by Leech and others.)

  • Sorry, I meant ran not run and I always mistype that. So, as a native speaker which one would you use in this case? – Noah Sep 1 '12 at 9:03
  • @Noah: It would depend on my attitude at the time to what I was planning to do. It would also depend on what had gone on previously in the conversation. – Barrie England Sep 1 '12 at 9:14

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