Could someone please let me know whether we can call someone "a real human" as a complement about his human values (like: kindness, forgiveness, faithfulness, generosity, sacrifice, etc.) (I am not quite sure whether "human values" is an idiomatic collocation).


  • He’s a truly compassionate individual. He always help others without expecting them to return his favor. I definitely know if he faces someone in need, will overlook his own needs and donates whatever he has in order to help that person! You know, "he’s a real human."

Also, I have found some internet sources which indicate that this sentence might be idiomatic, but the problem is that I am not quite sure if they have been uttered by native speakers.


Sometimes it takes a real hero to become a real human being. Source

If it is not a natural and idiomatic way of expressing it, I wonder how shall I say that.

1 Answer 1


This doesn't quite work for me. The problem is that "real humans" are just as likely to be cruel, jealous, deceitful, mean etc.

I would use a metaphor here. "He's a real gem". Or hyperbolic language "He's one in a million", "he's a real hero". There is a more technical word "altruist". There is also the adjective "humane" but since you've already said "he's compassionate" adding "humane" doesn't really change anything.

The quote is intended to be contrastive, but the meaning the example isn't very clear. I don't know quite what the author means by real human in that example.

The phrase "human values" is fine, but don't expect everyone to show those values! Nor to agree on what "human values" actually are.

  • Excellent answer @James K. The may I ask you which combination (rooted from the word "human") would you say instead of "human values" which can indicate these qualities? Also, please do me a favor and tell me whether I can say: "he/she's a piece of gem" as I say in two languages: [Direct translation: "He/she is a piece of jewel."]
    – A-friend
    Jun 24, 2020 at 7:26

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