I.e., would I use "I hate the humanities" or "I hate humanities"?

On that note, would the complementary statement be "I love the sciences" or "I love science"?

"I love sciences" just sounds wrong, but "I hate humanity" means something totally different.


No offense intended; I'm just using my source of confusion as an example.

  • Also, I'm not quite sure of the quotation and punctuation combos in this question either. – user51995 Dec 31 '13 at 7:28
  • (2) (a) Normally, the 'inner full stops' in quotes are replaced by commas or, nowadays, left out altogether. I'd omit 5 full stops if writing your post (your "I hate humanity" causes no problems, does it – we all know you'd add the full stop if it weren't a non-terminal quote). (b) I do add the full stop, however, if I want to ensure that people realise it was present in the original: The notice must read 'Drop no litter.', not 'Drop no litter' or 'Drop no litter!' (b) Like you, I'd use no comma or colon here to introduce the quotes. (c) I'd put the question marks where you do. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 31 '13 at 8:05

Science is one of those nouns that can be both countable and uncountable, but it is generally uncountable. We say things like ‘Science has made great progress over the last 100 years’ or ‘More men than women study science’. When it is countable, we usually have something more specific in mind. The sciences means physics, chemistry, biology and a few others. We can also speak of the natural sciences and the social sciences. You’re right to find that I love sciences sounds wrong. The plural, I would guess, rarely, if at all, occurs without the definite article.

In current English, humanities, generally means, in the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition:

The branch of learning concerned with human culture; the academic subjects collectively comprising this branch of learning, as history, literature, ancient and modern languages, law, philosophy, art, and music.

As such, it almost always occurs in the plural. However, the OED goes on to say

Hence also in singular: any one of these subjects.

In support of this use there is this citation from 1991:

Art history is a humanity and should be taught as such.

All the OED’s citations that use the word in the plural are preceded by the. It is, however, just about conceivable that it could occur without.

  • Humanities (essentially geography and history) is the name of a subject taught in some schools, including mine. It is common to hear students say: I hate humanities! (It is moot as to whether it should be written capitalised: e.g., I hate mathematics / I hate Mathematics and I hate science / Science.) – Shoe Dec 31 '13 at 10:21
  • So both sentences are valid? Are they semantically equivalent though? Also, the singular humanity refers to the human race as well; won't this cause ambiguity? – user51995 Dec 31 '13 at 17:11
  • Context resolves most ambiguities, but, in my experience, singular humanity in this sense is rare. – Barrie England Dec 31 '13 at 17:15

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