What are you upset (about / for)?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by wanabee, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. wanabee Senior Member

    Japanese
    Dear all,

    He looked angry all morning, so I finally asked, "what are you so upset (about/for)?"

    I made up the sentence, but I'm not sure if I should use "about" or "for" at the end of the question.
    Could someone explain the differences if any?
     
  2. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    "About" refers to the subject of your being upset. "I'm upset about my telephone service."

    "For" refers to the reason you are upset. "I'm upset because my telephone service is poor."
     
  3. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    What for = Why, so "What are you so upset for?" = "Why are you so upset?"

    "What are you so upset about?" = "What has caused you to be so upset?"
     
  4. wanabee Senior Member

    Japanese
    Thank you very much, Egmont and RM1!
    So when you are asked "what are you upset about?" it wouldn't be logical to answer "I'm upset about my father yelling at me this morning"?
    I'm a bit confused how, in actual usage, they are different...
     
  5. redgiant Senior Member

    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    I'd like to see some followup on wanabee's question in #4 from native speakers. I don't sense any actual difference between them from the explanations by Egmont and Rm1(SS)
     
  6. Florentia52 Modwoman in the attic

    Wisconsin
    English - United States
    "What are you so upset about?" = What has caused you to be upset? (Bad telephone service, father yelled at me, etc.)

    "What wre you so upset for?" = Why are you reacting so strongly to the thing that caused you to be upset? (I slept badly last night and have a headache, so I'm overreacting to my phone having dropped a call.)
     
  7. Sparky Malarky

    Sparky Malarky Senior Member

    Indiana
    English - US
    Florentia has explained this pretty well. I would just like to add this:

    What are you so upset about?
    This makes the assumption that you are upset about something, not just in a bad mood. I could respond "I'm upset over my tax bill," or I could respond "Who needs a reason to be upset? I hate it here!" Or, "Who says I'm upset?"

    What are you so upset for? If this is said in a certain tome of voice, or under certain circumstances it can imply that you have no right to be upset. So I might ask "What are you so upset for? You're getting everything you wanted." Or "What are you so upset for? I'm the one who should be upset!"
     
  8. wanabee Senior Member

    Japanese
    Thank you very much, Florentia and Sparky!
     
  9. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    "What are you upset about?" - "I'm upset about my father's yelling at me this morning."
    "What are you upset for?" = "Why are you upset?" - "I'm upset because my father yelled at me this morning."
     
  10. wanabee Senior Member

    Japanese
    Thank you very much, RM1!
     

Share This Page