Quote from a text I'm reading now (source):

To conclude, I hope that one day when someone else from another planet is writing on interesting facts about our planet, they don't mention this. "Earth is the only planet with life in the milky way. The most progressive life form of which were the Humans, who ironically brought about extinction on the blue planet."

My question:
Extinction here means extinction of all life forms or of Humans specifically? I am confused with the verb "is". Can it be a mistake? Should it be "was" or something like "is the only planet that once had a life"?

  • Hi! Welcome to ELL! Mar 29, 2015 at 23:26
  • What is the source? In the context given, you can't tell if it means humans, something else or everything.
    – user3169
    Mar 29, 2015 at 23:35
  • @user3169 Sorry. Link to the source
    – Alexander
    Mar 29, 2015 at 23:39
  • @Alexandr Your welcome! I hope you didn't struggle while typing my username. :-) Mar 29, 2015 at 23:40

4 Answers 4


A strict reading of the text - that is, if the grammar is correct and consistent - tells us that in this scenario, Earth suffered some extinctions, including humans, but is not lifeless.

Earth is the only planet with life in the milky way.

Since this is present tense, we know that Earth still has life at the time of the writing.

The most progressive life form of which were the Humans...

Since we are using the past tense "were", we know that humans are no longer a life form of Earth.

[Humans] who ... brought about extinction on the blue planet.

At least some extinctions were caused by Humans.

However, it is important to take the context of the writing into consideration. The minor errors on the source page (e.g., the extra comma in "It is this life form, that is responsible for the damage to the existence of life.") tell us that the author may not be 100% accurate with grammar. The author is also clearly concerned with human impact on the environment: "Yes, it's us, the mighty bipedal animals that rule this kingdom, and slowly dragging it to ruin."

Based on the context, I believe the author's intention with this text was to say "Earth was the only planet with life in the Milky Way." This is more consistent with the repeated warnings on the authors page, and also a better-written scenario.

(I am still curious where the alien writing about Earth is from, since we know Earth was the only planet in our Galaxy with life!)

  • 1
    Great analysis! Thank you very much. You have been very helpful.
    – Alexander
    Mar 30, 2015 at 1:13
  • RE the last sentence: Okay, I suppose the writer is assuming that the aliens who study Earth come from another galaxy. Or perhaps, like so many science fiction movies, he's confused about the difference between a star system and a galaxy.
    – Jay
    Mar 30, 2015 at 13:31

There are plenty of mistakes in that text and adjacent text. It's just a friggin' amateur website, full of random tidbits of marginally useful information. It appears to be crowdsourced. So don't expect impeccable English from such a site.

Examples: 1) The last sentence you quoted is not a sentence, but rather a sentence fragment. 2) "milky way" should be capitalized Milky Way (never mind why would aliens even call it the Milky Way?)

And yes, you're right, they shouldn't say "is""...,with life" if all life has become extinct.


Maybe he meant "Earth is the only planet with the conditions to support life in the Milky Way".


In my opinion, the article is not quite well-written, so it may be that the author himself got confused while writing his ideas down.

That said, "extinction" does not necessarily mean total death of all forms of life. We may easily cause our own extinction via a global war. We have already made extinct a lot of species by changing the ecosystems dramatically. However, even a global nuclear war could not kill all single-cell life forms, some of which live in deep caves and underground lakes.

Imagine Earth once again inhabited by only single-celled organisms. This fits both "has life" and "had an extinction" descriptions.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .