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Tom Brady is being foolish for practicing during the pandemic.

In my understanding, the commentator implies, by using present continuous tense, that Tom Brady's foolishness is just temporary. If this is correct, would it add a little insulting implication if the commentator said "Tom Brady is foolish for practicing during the pandemic."? Or does that make no difference?

  • I don't hear any difference in that context. – Jack O'Flaherty Aug 18 at 3:55
  • Is that because the commentary includes the phrase "during the pandemic"? – TeeBee Aug 18 at 4:10
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    Yes, and more, "foolish for practicing during the pandemic". That details the entire argument as to why foolishness is attributed. If you were comparing "is being foolish for doing X" and a flat "is foolish", there would be a difference. But different people will hear it differently. Even if such a shade of meaning is found there, was the speaker being careful enough to observe it? – Jack O'Flaherty Aug 18 at 5:20
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I would say that xxx is foolish differentiates from xxx is being foolish in potential for the first to be considered a value judgment.

Stating someone is foolish with no other qualifiers and no other context is a fairly direct statement. Left with no other context we are made to assume that this is how this person is. With no reference to time, we understand that it applies at all times.

Stating someone is being foolish leaves room to interpret that while xxx is engaged in something foolish, it is temporary, because you've given the context of a specific time frame. This can give the reader the understanding that the foolishness is confined to that moment being described. We can still deem xxx to be foolish in general, but also that it could just be xxx did something foolish at a time and then continued their life of non-foolish behaviour.

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  • Thanks, Evan. Does that mean it makes no difference, in my example, by saying either "is foolish" or "is being foolish" because the commentary includes a qualifier "during the pandemic"? – TeeBee Aug 18 at 4:22
  • "during the pandemic" gives us context as to why someone thinks what they think about xxx. That context helps me understand why someone thinks xxx is foolish, otherwise I might question why you would make the judgment that someone is foolish. The "is foolish" or "is being foolish" portion can be taken on its own, and makes a difference in whether you are saying someone can be described as a foolish person (i.e. a judgment) or has simply done something foolish (less judgmental tone; we all do foolish stuff sometimes). – Evan Aug 18 at 4:53

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