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When is used "you are being so...", how much time can be passed from the action? For, example can it be one day long or longer?

You’re usually very patient, so why are you being so unreasonable about waiting ten more minutes?

I know it can be used also in the past form. Can you say the time from the happened action when the past form will be used in practice? Using Ngram, I see that the past form is used very rarely.

You’re usually very patient, so why were you being so unreasonable about waiting ten more minutes?

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  • You like apple pie, so why didn't you like it yesterday? You like apple pie, so why don't you like it now? A statement in the present tense can be explained in terms of a present or past tense.
    – Lambie
    Oct 13, 2022 at 15:17
  • Or vice-versa: You did like pie, so why don't you like it now? Oct 13, 2022 at 15:23
  • @Lambie, Your explanation is clear. But I have an example about person's behaviour and I guess, in real life, we describe the actions that happened in the past, but I don't see that the construction "why were you being so" is popular in English. The opposite is true. For non-native speaker it's strange that you describe someone's actions more often in present, at now, at the moment, not about some past actions that happened in the morning or yesterday.
    – Sergei
    Oct 13, 2022 at 15:36
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    You would use the past tense if the unreasonable behaviour happened in the past, but you consider that you still haven't had a satisfactory explanation of it. Oct 13, 2022 at 16:05
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    "to be so x" is extremely common in English. Why are you being so silly? Past tense: Why were you being so silly. You are so reasonable now. Why were you being so silly this morning about that?
    – Lambie
    Oct 13, 2022 at 16:53

1 Answer 1

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If the action is for all purposes clearly concluded, even for a second, you wouldn't use the present tense.

I don't trust ngrams, particularly in cases like this, as I'm skeptical that you'd find a representative sample of conversational English in that database. But it wouldn't surprise me in any case if the past tense of this particular expression occurs less often than the present tense. "Why are you being so" is often kind of an exasperated, in-the-moment thing to say, especially when somebody is being difficult in some way. People aren't as likely to use the expression when having a sober discussion of the issue later on, although it's certainly possible and there's nothing wrong with "why were you being so...".

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