I am not sure if we should use "who" or if we should use "that" when the group we refer to are not 100% human or 100% animal. This is something I never thought of, but I think it's a really good question, because I doubt there's a clear rule on this.

For example:

The man and his loyal dog who were reincarnated as two humans have now become the rulers of this desolate planet.

  • Have the two humans become the rulers of the planet?
    – Jasper
    Apr 12, 2019 at 5:43

1 Answer 1


Animals are often referred to using "who" when we personify them. This can include pets, talking animal characters in stories, and even wild animals being dramatized in a nature documentary, just to name a few examples. Generally, if the animal's name or gender is known, it should probably be personified. (Notice that even when talking about animals of assumed personhood but unspecified gender, I still use "it" where a person would be "they"—a human-centric bias.)

So the dog reincarnated as a person, who I presume is now sentient and a main character in the story, should absolutely be referred to using "who" both in the present and in any references to his or her past life as a dog.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .