inhuman vs inhumane

ScottsEnglishScottsEnglish Administrator Posts: 1,030 admin ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
edited July 2016 in Vocabulary
A student wrote the following sentence:
Yes, it may seem cruel and inhuman to make an animal suffer from the side-effect of a product, but I believe it may turn worse if a human consumes it directly. 
When we read this sentence the word 'inhuman' seemed to have been used incorrectly (we thought the word should have been inhumane). We decided to check it out! Here's what we found about inhuman:

  • it is an adjective
  • it describes behaviour that is extremely cruel
  • it is the opposite of human
  • example: The prisoners were exposed to inhuman treatment.
What about inhumane? Well, here's what we found:
  • it is an adjective
  • it describes cruel behaviour that causes suffering to people and animals
  • it is the opposite of humane 
  • example: Many people consider factory farming as inhumane.
Still confused? 

Well, the fact is that they are used in different contexts - inhuman is harsher in its meaning than inhumane. To be inhuman means to lack all human qualities, not only compassion and kindness. To be inhumane means to lack compassion and kindness, not merciful.

The prisoners (subject) were exposed to inhuman treatment.
Many people consider factory farming (behaviour) as inhumane.

Practice
Choose the correct word, inhuman or inhumane, in each of the following sentences.

1. The rebel leader committed _______ acts of terrorism, which included the butchering of countless women and children.
2. Some people feel that there is something almost _______ about perfection.
3. Many people consider the factory farming of chickens as _______.
4. The prisoners of war were subject to _______ treatment.
5. It may seem cruel and _______ to make an animal suffer from the side-effect of a product.

When you are ready, check our answers with your answers (below).

1. The rebel leader committed inhuman acts of terrorism, which included the butchering of countless women and children.
2. Some people feel that there is something almost inhuman about perfection.
3. Many people consider the factory farming of chickens as inhumane.
4. The prisoners of war were subject to inhuman treatment.
5. It may seem cruel and inhumane to make an animal suffer from the side-effect of a product.


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