Please suppose that a worker who is living in a factory has a very valuable stamp album (no matter precious or not the worker loves it for some personal reasons). He decides to travel to his hometown for a while and take some rest. Before he leaves the factory, whereas he has a very reliable friend and coworker, he asks his friend to take care of that album while he is away. Before his departure, he tells the friend:

  • Just please put it away in a place that it won’t ...........

Which one of the following words can be used here naturally:

a) be damaged

b) be harmed

c) be hurt


The "natural" choice here is damaged (to damage = reduce the value or usefulness of).

Hurt is completely unacceptable in OP's context. Normally, only things capable of suffering pain can be hurt.

Harmed is credible, but relatively unlikely in this exact context. It tends to imply deliberately damaged.

  • 2
    Overall, a good answer, although I would also point out that we also use hurt metaphorically sometimes, as in "his chances were hurt". But I agree that in this case it doesn't sound natural. The question of when we use hurt/harmed/damaged is actually fairly subtle. – stangdon Mar 23 '17 at 15:54
  • I was pretty sure there would be contexts where hurt could be used "naturally" (though probably not "literally") in reference to inanimate/insensate things. But offhand I couldn't think of a good one, which is why I settled for including normally above. Yours is an excellent example though, so I trust the mods won't delete it in some future frenzy of "comment-tidying". – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Mar 23 '17 at 16:01

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