I recently wrote an essay during my exam about the environment and our responsibility. In one of my paragraphs, I wrote: "As humans gifted with intelligence, it is our duty to protect the flora and fauna that cannot do so." My teacher corrected it to "As humans are gifted with intelligence," insisting that the verb to be was necessary.

My question is: Is there a significant difference in either?

Many thanks in advance!

  • 4
    There is a difference in meaning, though both are correct, if spoken by intelligent humans. The second could be spoken by a Martian, though with a slight change in meaning. (I'd say the first is better.) – Hot Licks May 18 at 12:12
  • The only change I would be inclined to make is to add a comma * "As humans, gifted with intelligence, it is our duty ... "* – Peter Jennings May 18 at 18:23
  • If you add are, you should also add who: As humans who are gifted with intelligence. Otherwise, it could be interpreted as Because humans are gifted with intelligence. But all three versions mean something different, there is nothing wrong with your original version, and your teacher is simply wrong. – Jason Bassford May 18 at 18:36
  • I would change "it is our duty" to "we have a duty" so that "as humans gifted with intelligence" refers to "we" rather than to "duty". – Andreas Blass May 19 at 3:59

Your teacher is wrong, the word are is not grammatically necessary here, and it does change the meaning.

In your sentence, the group gifted with intelligence is a subset of all humanity, you claim membership in the subset, and you assign an obligation to the subset.

In your teacher's sentence, the group gifted with intelligence is all humanity, and you assign an obligation to the entire species.

Your teacher's version is probably better (expressing that there may be non-intelligent humans may offend), but your version is not ungrammatical, and because your version remains correct even when the subset is not strict (i.e. it contains the entire species), you aren't actually making the offensive claim, just leaving the possibility open.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.