I'm trying to say that all humans on planet earth are social creatures, without using plural form.

A human is a social creature.

The human is a social creature.

Human is a social creature.

What is the best way?

Last one is probably wrong. I wondered whether it is possible to refer to the word "human" as one would refer to an uncountable noun.

As, for example, with the word "time" which can be countable/uncountable. As in sentence:

Thank you for your time.

A new question has risen whether there should be an article preceding "other human being" in the sentence following the first one.

The human is a social creature. Sometimes, interaction with other human being can become overly emotional and in such state we have tendency to act impulsively while not realizing that some of our decisions made can become permanent—beyond possibility of repair.

The question now is whether there should be an article before other human being.

  • 7
    Why do you want to avoid plural? "Humans are social creatures." is the best combination possible, as far as I'm concerned.
    – M.A.R.
    Feb 12, 2015 at 17:50
  • @MARamezani - "The human is a social creature" is the best, IMHO. I'm uncertain about the last option. I know that "man" us used widely without an article, but not sure about "human". Feb 12, 2015 at 17:51
  • @CopperKettle, what do you think about "human being"? It sounds legit to me. I guess we should make it more clear that we're talking about the species.
    – M.A.R.
    Feb 12, 2015 at 17:53
  • @MARamezani I think that singular form emphasizes well the whole humanity, human species business. "Human being" is great, but I'm using it in the next sentence, therefore I'm avoiding it in the first one. Feb 12, 2015 at 18:06
  • I have to agree with @MARamezani that as written "human being" is more natural. If being repetitive is a problem, then maybe use "mankind". Also you might add the second sentence to your question so we can get the whole picture.
    – user3169
    Feb 12, 2015 at 18:37

3 Answers 3


The human is a social creature.

This is the best construction of the three. It uses "the human" in the sense of "the class of things known as human". Coincidentally, this is basically the same answer I just gave here.

The first sentence also could work, if it is crystal clear from context that you are speaking generally about the characteristics of all humans. The third sentence is ungrammatical.

  • Please explain what "The human" is. I would expect a class of things to be a mass noun.
    – user3169
    Feb 12, 2015 at 18:41
  • 1
    From the definition of "the" I used in the other answer: "the name of anything used as the type of its class", e.g. "play the piano", "the wolf protects its young", "learn to use the computer". Those nouns do not necessarily refer to particular instances (though they could, depending on context), but rather to the entire class. If one "learns to use the computer", one likely isn't referring to a particular computer, but to computers in general. As in this case, the plural would be (close to?) equivalent: "learn to use computers", but the OP wanted to avoid the plural.
    – Matthew W
    Feb 12, 2015 at 19:04
  • OK, I did not see the "no plural" part. As singular they sound odd at best. I would still go with "human being".
    – user3169
    Feb 12, 2015 at 19:09
  • 1
    I think it sounds odd because we know (or at least assume) that the writer is human, so it seems very removed. Less jarring, I think, to talk about "the behavior of the ant" or "the uses of the screwdriver". Having seen the rest of the paragraph in the comments on the question, I would probably go with "human beings" myself, as well, if only for symmetry with the "human being" in the second sentence.
    – Matthew W
    Feb 12, 2015 at 19:16

Option 3 is grammatically incorrect: You cannot use a singular noun in English without an article or one of a small set of adjectives ("one", "my", etc.).

Most people would either say: (a) "The human is a social animal", using "the human" here to refer to an example member of the group. Or (b) "Humans are social animals". Personally that's what I'd say.

"A human ..." is also acceptable, but I think would be less common.

The uncountable-noun form of "human" is "humanity". Yes, the word "time" can be used as a countable or as an uncountable noun: "How many times did you ask her?" (countable) versus "I have no time to do that" (uncountable) As with many things in English, sometimes we use the same word for multiple roles like this and sometimes we have different words. In the case of "human", we have different words.

In any case, that wouldn't really help. You can't say, "Humanity is a social animal", because humanity as an uncountable mass group is not a social animal, it is the individual humans who are.

  • It would also be good to point out that we sometimes use "man" with no article ("We bow down to the universal laws, which never had for man a special clause / of cruelty or kindness, love or hate.."). Feb 12, 2015 at 18:20
  • 1
    @CopperKettle That's an interesting point. "Man" can be used to refer to all human beings collectively. Like, "Man has spread out across the globe." But you can also use "man" to speak of a "prototypical man" without using an article: "Man is a social creature." I think the word is unusual in that way. You wouldn't say, "Cat is a social creature", you'd have to say, "The cat is ..." or "Cats are ..." Etc.
    – Jay
    Feb 12, 2015 at 18:30
  • 1
    I like to imagine that in the world of feline literature, they refer to themselves like that. "Cat is a curious creature..."
    – DJMcMayhem
    Feb 12, 2015 at 22:28

I would go with:

A human being is a social creature. Sometimes, interaction with another can become overly emotional...

I would stick with "human being" though. To some, just saying "human" might be considered objectifying who we are (maybe other than a scientific usage).

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