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An answer to the question (With the meaning of "not involving anything else", could "just" and "solely" be used interchangeably?) says

For example, you could say "he's just a baby", meaning he's not yet anything more than a baby with respect to age, growth, intellectual capacity etc.

Is it suitable to call a baby a "thing"? If yes, how old is a baby when he/she should not be called "thing"?

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  • People disagree about the point where a collection of cells starts being a person. But I'm pretty sure all agree that that point is before birth.
    – mASOUD
    Feb 27 '20 at 11:58
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Yes, a baby can be a thing, like a man or woman or student or professor can be a thing.

It's the difference between who we are, which refers to us as persons, that is our relationships with other persons, and what we are, which refers to "things," like our sex, growth status (baby, child, adult, old man), profession, membership of a community, etc.

Is it suitable to call a baby a "thing"? If yes, how old is a baby when he/she should not be called "thing"?

It's not that a baby is a thing and becomes a person at a certain age. A baby is always a person, but his/her growth status as a baby is a thing.

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  • People often affectionately say of a baby, kitten, puppy, etc, that it is 'a cute little thing'. Feb 27 '20 at 12:17
  • @MichaelHarvey, yes, I agree. The OP thought that using "anything" in a sentence directly refers to a baby as a thing. A baby is both a person (who) and a thing in a certain development phase, so a thing (what).
    – Jan
    Feb 27 '20 at 12:21
  • Your answer is very helpful. Thank you. Is it appropriate to consider the growth status as some kind of attribute/characteristic?
    – WXJ96163
    Feb 27 '20 at 12:24
  • @WXJ96163, yes, I'm an adult and this is my attribute or characteristic.
    – Jan
    Feb 27 '20 at 12:26
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I believe your quote is from one of my answers!

Yes, there are contexts where you can call a baby, or a person a "thing". In British English "poor thing" is a common expression when feeling sorry for someone.

However, in the context of my answer, I wasn't referring to the baby as a "thing". I was referring to a quality or characteristic of the person.

A person is many things - a man, a woman, tall, short, kind etc. All these qualities could be called "things". For example, it is quite idiomatic to say "tell me something about yourself", to mean a fact, or a quality, or an aspect of your personality.

I said that the baby (who is a person) is "not yet anything more than a baby with respect to age, growth, intellectual capacity etc". I was referring to the fact they are a baby as a quality of the person rather than it meaning the entire person themselves. One day that person will be an adult, not a baby, so they will lose that characteristic, but they will still be a person.

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  • Yes, my quote is from one of your answers and I claimed that at the beginning of my OP. Thank you again! I guess I've got a clearer understanding now. I guess it is reasonable to rewrite "he's just a baby" as "his growth status is baby". However, the rewritten version is a bit wordy, and any native English speaker would get the meaning with original one, so, it is unnecessary to bother say something like my version, right?
    – WXJ96163
    Feb 27 '20 at 12:47

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