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Every single day I get out of my bed, I hear approximately thirty "Are you serious?-es" ("es" being the plural suffix).
From my rommates, to my neighbours, the gossipy girls I walk pass,my friends, the couple arguing at a corner and even myself (haha you thought I wouldn't mention myself?).
In my close observation, the "are you serious?" can be used in various situations depending on the speakers' state of mind.
An "are -y-o-u se-rious?!" usually with the syllabes of "you" and "serious" stressed indicates the speaker is totally suprised at seeing someone after a long time; friend or foe. E.g. (sees a friend after two years) Mike! Are yooou seeeeerious?! that yoou..?

The second case, a curt "are you serious!" is usually more of an exclamation of suprise at what the first speaker might have disclosed or an entirely astonishing find. The voice usually takes a higher pitch than the first case. E.g. Speaker 1:"Fayose is getting married next month." Speaker 2: (out of suprise) "Are you serious!"
Finally, the "are you serious?" out of disappointment. In this case the voice is lower, the syllables are shorter and spoken faster followed by a series of curse words, a sigh or a disappointing heave. E.g. (sees an ice-cream stand after à long walk under the sun, stops to buy and seller refuses to sell because he/she has no change) are you serious!? (sighs,rains down curses).
N.B. Another kind of "are you serious" exists. This kind is usually followed by a laugh or giggle. It what I've named the "gossipy are you serious?" It contains the lightest bit of suprise and is usually a go-ahead for the "gister" to go ahead. This is usually the climax of the gossip. E.g. Speaker 1: ...and Tolu caught her bf with her cousin shagging on vals day.... Speaker 2: (giggles) are you serious..(laughs some more) then what happened...
So next time you in an "are you serious?" situation, err try and understnd which is directed to you. You never can tell what you'd figure out.
And in case you like me and tired of the "are you serious?" catchphrase and want to hear something better and authentic, contact me and we'll talk. (I even want to stop saying it!! already).
Happy holiday pals and to those who still have exams to write; "Are You Serious?!"
Grace Okogwu
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