I am wondering if a fairy is considered a person or a creature.

The fairy who is very old told me I was the chosen one.

So do we use who or that?

The fairy that is very old told me I was the chosen one.

I am thinking it's a matter of opinion, or is it? Are both valid?

  • 1
    I think both are theoretically grammatical, but this phrasing sounds awkward. How about just "The very old fairy told me I was the chosen one"?
    – Mixolydian
    Mar 3, 2019 at 18:25
  • I just used the sentences as examples.
    – Sayaman
    Mar 3, 2019 at 18:29

2 Answers 2


I think this person (or creature) would be most offended if she were referred to as if she were a thing. The 1869 painting is called "Take the Fair Face of Woman, and Gently Suspending, With Butterflies, Flowers, and Jewels Attending, Thus Your Fairy is Made of Most Beautiful Things", and is by Sophie Gengembre Anderson.

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There are plenty of references in literature to fairies as people, most accessibly perhaps in the Fairy Books of Andrew Lang, published between 1899 and 1913.


Once upon a time there lived a Fairy who had power over the earth, the sea, fire, and the air;

Andrew Lang's Fairy Books at Project Gutenberg


If a fairy (or any other animal) can talk, or is given a human-like personality, then it should be treated as a person, and use "who".

The Cat Who... is a series of twenty-nine mystery novels and three related collections by Lilian Jackson Braun, not The Cat That.

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