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Which word would be more colloquial in the following sentence:

He is too ... for a job in which tough decisions were made.

The word sensitive can mean "easily offended, upset or damaged". Can we say that the words overlap in the sense emotional so the both can be used.

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    Why do you think sentimental would be a suitable substitute? What do you think sentimental means exactly?
    – ColleenV
    Nov 7, 2017 at 23:00

2 Answers 2

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Most colloquial in that sentence? I would consider "sensitive" over "sentimental". It's more befitting in the sentence. "Sentimental" basically means "tender/emotional". If you would place that in the given sentence ("he is too emotional for a job in which tough decisions were made"), then it would give the impression that, the person in question, has emotional problems (like breaking down too much, or becoming angry quickly, etc.), whereas "sensitive" would simply imply that the person "cannot handle it", whether physically OR mentally.

Depending on what you want to imply (whether it is in fact specifically something you would imagine with someone being tender, or someone just not being able to handle it), is what would be the most befitting. It's about context.

When you say "sensitive", would it be clear to the reader what the sensitivity is?

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Although they have similar definitions, sensitive and sentimental have distinct meanings in this context.

Someone who is sensitive is, as you mention, easily offended or upset, or is frequently emotional.

Sheli is a sensitive person and can't even watch movies with violence, as she is too upset by scenes of people being injured or killed.

Someone who is sentimental is overly attached to a memory, emotion, or context, and prone to nostalgia.

My mother is particularly sentimental and never threw away any of the birthday cards my brothers and I made her when we were kids.

For a position that requires dealing with things like angry customers, tight deadlines, or difficult subjects, you can say that someone is too sensitive for the job. For a position that requires getting rid of memorabilia or objects that may evoke nostalgia, you can say that person is too sentimental for the job.

Either works, but each means something different.

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