Cats are carnivores
Cats are carnivorous
Cats are carnivorous animals

I often hear people say those sentences and I wonder which among them is/are correct. And are there any differences in meaning or focus among the three sentences?

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  • 3
    They are all valid and essentially mean the same thing. – Jim Sep 27 '14 at 5:25
  • 1
    @Jim They are all valid but do not mean the same thing. – Kris Sep 27 '14 at 5:26
  • 6
    @Kris- waiting to pounce I see. That's why I said essentially. Obviously the 3rd admits to a cat being an animal while the 1st only implies it because a carnivore is an animal that eats meat. The second uses carnivorous which just attaches the qualities of being a carnivore to the cat. But all this is evident by the words that are present in each. There is no subtle hidden difference that a native speaker would perceive that a non-native speaker would miss. They are all quite straightforward in their meanings, which is: Cats eat meat. – Jim Sep 27 '14 at 5:30
  • 3
    @Jim bravo and correct. – Mari-Lou A Sep 27 '14 at 7:32
  • 1
    Sundews are carnivorous. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 27 '14 at 17:03

Apart from emphasis and rhythm, the only difference I can think of is that in certain contexts, "carnivore" could refer very specifically to a member of the order Carnivora. However, an actual scientist would probably say "carnivoran" or "member of the order Carnivora," and most people don't make the distinction, so that's rare.

  • Of course not all members of Carnivora are actually carnivorous. – Colin Fine Sep 28 '14 at 11:30

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