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Was drafting an email and my senior wanted to type "Planting saplings is our way of saying we care for our Nature".
I felt that's wrong English. Shouldn't it be "we care for Nature"? (it makes it a bit impersonal to remove the 'our', but if 'our nature' isn't right, can the cuteness factor of mentioning 'our nature' be preserved?. Which is correct?)

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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You're right. Nature has (at least) two different meanings. When attributed to people, it tends to refer to their character/personality/beliefs/customs/heritage:

It's not in his nature

means "he's not that kind of person, he wouldn't do that". So if we "care for our nature" we care for our character, traditions, behaviour - it's not about nature as in the natural environment. So I would change the phrase to one of these:

We care for Nature

We care for our natural environment

We care for our environment

We care for the environment

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In English Our nature would refer to Human Nature; the way humans are inherently inclined to behave. Sometimes it could be extended to mean the way an individual person is mentally wired. For example, the popular frog and scorpion fable ends with the scorpion killing them both by stinging the frog in mid-stream, and explaining himself with "it is my nature".

Nature, on the other hand (when capitalized) is assumed to be talking about the natural world around us. It is a metaphorical concept that you can't really put a possessive on, because it can't be owned. Rather, it owns us. If you really want to put a possessive on it, it should be changed to our environment.

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Waggers answer is correct. I can only add that what in the Question is referred to as Nature is very often referred to as Mother Nature.

It's appropriate therefore to treat it as a proper noun and not use the definite article.

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