For me "Human Being" doesn't make sense. "Being human" however makes sense to me. Is that a one-off word?

Also it is not used when referring to organisms other than humans, like "tiger being" etc..

So, what exactly is "being" doing up there?

3 Answers 3


The collocation 'human being' is not an exception or anything special, because the noun 'being' means 'a living creature' and may be used with other adjectives, not necessarily with the adjective 'human'. For example,

a strange being from another planet

So, 'human being' probably confused you because you haven't realized that 'being' is a noun in that context, and 'human' is not a noun here, but an adjective.

By the way, I came across a little bit more specific definition of the noun 'being': a real or imaginary living creature, especially an intelligent one. So, I guess that might be the reason why we wouldn't say 'tiger being'.


Both are correct but different. In the first, being is a noun and in the second, being serves as a verb!

The words Human being collectively form a noun (compound noun?). You got confused because you thought of a noun being in human being separately.

Human being (noun) - a member of any of the races of Homo sapiens; person; man, woman, or child

On the other hand, being human is verb + noun. Consider...

Being a businessperson, I don't want to take a risk on this half-baked deal.


To start with, any word ending in "-ING" is a VERB traditionally, as long as the ING is a suffix to it and the base word a verb, as in "BE-ING". It is also to be known that a nomilized word is not a noun in its actual form, rather, it's a noun by function. A proper research on grammatical names and functions might help. I stand to be corrected.

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