I encountered 'humanity which ~' or 'human race which ~' a few times.

humanity and human race both refer to humans, but why do you use which? And how about 'humanity who' or 'human race who'?

Example sentence:

By analogy, it seems to me unnatural and unhealthy for a nation to be engaged in global crusades for some ostensible principle or ideal while neglecting the needs of its own people; indeed, it seems far more likely that the nation that does most to benefit humanity in the long run is the nation that begins by meeting the needs of that portion of humanity which resides within its own frontiers.

-- J. W. Fulbright: What Kind of Country Do You Want To Be In?

  • 1
    That exempifies "that portion which", where "of humanity" is an attribute of "portion".
    – tripleee
    Dec 11, 2019 at 12:58

2 Answers 2


You have not considered the whole of "that portion of humanity which resides within its own frontiers." A portion here means a part or fraction, and is a singular thing, and "of humanity" is an attribute of "portion".


I believe we use which because human race and humanity are collective nouns used in the singular as a whole unit (one "object").

Both 'human race who' and 'humanity who' sound wrong. I tried to come up with examples where they wouldn't sound so weird, but all felt really wrong.

More on collective nouns here.

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