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I'd like to know the difference between 'You are in the wrong' and 'You are wrong'.

And even if they are different in meaning, can I just say 'You are wrong'? Is there much difference?

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I have to disagree with the other existing answer. "Wrong" and "in the wrong" are very close in meaning, and in a lot of occasions they can be used interchangeably.

If you look up the idiomatic phrase "in the wrong" in a dictionary, among the definitions you are bound to see "wrong." For instance take a look here:

The Free Dictionary defines "in the wrong" as

wrong; morally or legally incorrect.

Example sentences:

I am not in the wrong, you are. No, you are in the wrong.

Merriam Webster defines it as

in the position or situation of being wrong

Example:

We had an argument and each of us thinks that the other was in the wrong.

It is really a matter of style and/or sentence structure to go with either one. You might as well say

I am not wrong.

or

We had an argument and each of us thinks that the other was wrong.

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I am wrong (maybe I just said 2 = 2 equals 6): means I made a mistake. I am in the wrong (maybe I just said something bad and untrue about another person): means I have sinned.

We are all wrong some of the time. None of us ever wishes to be in the wrong.

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  • None of us ever wishes to be wrong / in the wrong. Are the meanings different?
    – Ives
    Feb 7, 2018 at 1:39

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