Having a debate on whether "You are being a jerk" and "You are a jerk" have the same meaning in context. Are you calling someone a jerk if you state they are "being" a jerk or is the context that they are portraying qualities of a jerk?

6 Answers 6


There is a pretty visible distinction between both, and this example displays one of the main uses of continuous present.

You are being a jerk

Means that you're a jerk right now, on the matter at hand.

You are a jerk.

Is way more general and is used to express your opinion about the person. However, you could say "you're such a jerk" on the moment because you're furious, but then not think so any more.

  • 29
    I have always understood "You are being" as referring to an individual's be behavior whereas "you are" was referring to the individual himself. In this context "being" would be synonymous with "acting like"
    – Michael J.
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 20:02
  • @MichaelJ. : Technically, you're correct. The former describes actions, while the second describes a noun. I like MadWard's answer, for describing more than just the technical description, but also common usage.
    – TOOGAM
    Commented May 28, 2016 at 7:00

You are being a jerk.

He/she is not a jerk, but at that time he/she is acting like one. Or portraying the qualities of a jerk.

You are a jerk.

It's a fact. The person is a jerk. This can also mean that the person is acting like a jerk at the time of speaking. Without context, it's not really possible to determine whether they have different or same meaning.

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    "It's a fact. The person is a jerk." - It's not a fact, it's an opinion.
    – nnnnnn
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 7:20
  • 8
    @nnnnnn "Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." - Marcus Aurelius
    – Usernew
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 13:11
  • @Usernew No, it is not by Marcus Aurelius. It is a modern saying wrongly attributed to Aurelius.
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 18:34
  • @EddieKal You are right. Marcus did say that everything is an opinion. But I don't know the actual source of that quote, and it was already too late to edit the comment.
    – Usernew
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 13:26

Saying "You are" implies a quality that is deeply engrained in someone or rather a quality they have little to no control over and/or unable to change on demand. Whereas saying "You are being" implies a quality that one could easily change at will.

Sometimes you can't refer to someone as "being", such as if you were to say, "You are tall." You couldn't say, "You are being tall" because that is not a quality that someone can easily change. Saying of someone "You are a jerk" would be more insulting than saying "You are being a jerk".

  • I don't think I agree with the implication that "you are" implies a quality that could not easily be changed at will. For example, "Manchester United play in red shirts" is indeed a statement about something that's deeply ingrained, but changing that is as simple as buying some green shirts. Commented May 27, 2016 at 18:59
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    @DavidRicherby but the verb in your example is to play, not to be.
    – nekomatic
    Commented May 28, 2016 at 21:15
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    But @DavidRicherby although it is literally true that they could go out and buy some green shirts at any time, in practice the process of changing team colours is not that simple. I don't know much about their sport, but I believe the goalie already plays in green, plus they'd need to update the colours on their website, provide new, green merchandise for the fans, etc.
    – nnnnnn
    Commented May 28, 2016 at 22:28

"You are being" is happening right now. The targeted individual is presently behaving the way described.

  • You are being silly. -- They are doing something silly right now.
  • You are being mean. -- They are doing something mean right now.
  • You are being argumentative. - They are being argumentative right now.

"You are" is what the targeted individual is in a broad, constant sense.

  • You are silly. -- They aren't behaving in a silly way, they are a silly person.
  • You are mean. -- They aren't being mean, they are a mean person.
  • You are argumentative. -- They aren't arguing, they are an argumentative person.
  • The second part of your answer is misleading. "You are silly" in no way implies that you are not being silly right now. It is just an assertion that you are silly in general, and makes no statement about what you are being right now. In general when someone tells you that you are silly there is a very high probability that you are also being silly at that present moment. Commented May 28, 2016 at 16:48

You are being is about a continuous sentence But You are is an information about that guy .


Imagine two people side by side, one a selfish Jerk and one who is compassionate. Either one has the option of acting out a quality of the other, compassionate can be (are being) a jerk or selfish and the Jerk, although a Jerk, can be compassionate. "Are being" or "being" does imply acting out "right now" and the implication is that you are still what you started out as.

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