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Describing people in English: BE or BEING?


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Hi there. My name is Emma, and in today's video I am going to teach you the difference

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between "be" and "being" when we are talking about people. Okay?

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So, I'm going to show you some sentences.

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The first one: "The boy is naughty."

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So "naughty" is like a bad boy.

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And the second one: "The boy is being naughty."

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What is the difference in this...? These two sentences? What is...? Like, just looking at the grammar,

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what is something that you notice? Well, you probably notice this is the only thing that's different.

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"The boy is naughty.", "The boy is being naughty." Okay? Now, one of these has to do with behaviour.

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The other one has to do with personality. Okay? So, if we look at: "The boy is naughty."

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what we really are saying is the boy is usually bad. It's a part of his personality. It's

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his feelings. He's... He's a bad boy, it's who he is. He's a naughty boy. That's a little

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bit different than: "The boy is being naughty." In this case, we're just looking at a behaviour

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or an action. The boy is usually a good boy, maybe. Maybe he... You know, he usually does

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what his parents tell him to, he listens to his teachers, he's a good boy, but that one

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day he is acting a certain way, his actions are naughty, his behaviour is naughty. The

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boy is being naughty. So, again, the difference is this is more about the boy... It's his

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personality type, and this is usually a temporary behaviour. Okay? It's not forever; it's just

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right now he's acting that way, but it's not who he is. So let's look at some other examples.

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"You are rude." Okay? Not you personally, but just an example. "You are rude." "Rude",

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for those of you who don't know, means not polite. So a person who's not polite is a

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rude person. Okay? If I say: "You are rude." I'm saying it's your personality. You're usually

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rude. You're a very rude person. It means this is who you are. Now, compare that to:

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"You are being rude." In this case, you're not usually a rude person; you're quite a

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polite person, maybe. But in this situation, your behaviour in this moment is rude. Okay?

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So, again, this is who you are; and this is your behaviour in a specific situation.

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So I'll give you an example. Okay? You know, I know someone who is always... Well, no,

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I don't actually know somebody. But imagine if there's somebody who's always picking their

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nose. We could say: "Ugh, that guy's rude. He's so rude." But if he, I guess does it

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once... Okay? If it's just a behaviour that happens only one time, you could say:

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"He's being rude." He's not always rude; it's just this one time.

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Here's another example: "He is a smartass." Versus: "He is being a smartass."

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A smartass is a person who tries to be funny, but they do it in kind of a not nice way. So it's almost

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like not-nice funny. So if you think about when you were a kid, maybe there were some

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smartasses in your class, those were the kids who always said things that made the teacher

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very angry. Okay? So those people are smartassess, they purposely try to make people angry.

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So if you say: "He is a smartass." it just means that's his character. He's usually this way,

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this is how he is. If you say: "He is being a smartass."

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it means maybe just this one time.

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It's his behaviour in this moment, but it's not usual for him. It's just right now.

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So let's do some work on this together, let's do some examples together.

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Okay, so now let's do some examples together. The first sentence I have:

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"I was careful when I drove." So when I drive a car, I'm careful.

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"I was careful when I drove."

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And again, "was" is the past tense for "be".

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Okay, so this is something I usually do, I'm a careful person, I drive very carefully.

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I want you to imagine this: Imagine if I'm not usually careful,

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but I see a police officer close to me. Okay? Maybe that might change the way

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I drive. So now I have a behaviour. How can I make this into a behaviour or an action

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that's not always true? If you said we can add something, you are right. What are we

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going to add? We're going to add "being", that

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"I was being careful when I drove."

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Let's look at the next one: "Jack is stupid." Jack is a stupid person.

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I'm sorry if any of you are named Jack, I don't mean you; this is just an example.

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"Jack is stupid." It's who he is, it's in his personality.

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It's Jack, Jack's a stupid guy. Now I want you to imagine

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this: Imagine if Jack is like Einstein, he's actually a really, really smart guy, but just

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today he did something very stupid. He did one stupid action. What could we say? We could say:

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"Jack is", what are you going to put here? Great. If you said "being", you are correct.

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"Jack is being stupid." That's his behaviour right now, but he's usually a smart guy.

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Okay, the last one: "Stacy is lazy." Stacy is lazy, Stacy never does any work. She watches

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TV all day, all night. She doesn't do anything. She's a lazy person. Now, I want you to change

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this to something different. Instead of Stacy being lazy, I want you to imagine she's a

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hard worker, but today she's feeling tired. What could we say about her action right now?

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We can say: "Stacy is being lazy." It's not usual. It's not her... Her... It's not a part

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of her personality, it's just her behaviour or her action in the moment.

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Okay, so I invite you to take our quiz at www.engvid.com.

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There, you can do a bunch of practice questions to make sure that you really understand this material.

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And until next time, take care. Thank you for watching.

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