"what you are" or "who you are"

Please tell me the difference between “what you are” and “who you are”, thanks!

Life will change what you are but not who you are.

“What you are” means “what is your profession”, “who you are” means “what is your name”…


Just a further comment - What you are suggests the sort of person you are in terms of your character and personality. Who you are refers to your identity - whose son/whose daughter you are and so on.


I have to disagree. As Alan said, “what you are” means what sort of character you have, and “who you are” means what your identity is, who your family is, but also what your identity is in terms of your personality or behavior. A lot depends on the context these phrases appear in.

Jamie and Alan,

I accept your notes. When I read the question I remembered my early school days when we were told that “What you are” means what is your profession or job (any student of a Soviet secondary school can confirm this). I knew that you would appear and give further explanation. I gave a short answer because I did not want to act like a moderator, which is a very responsible job on this web site. :wink:

Good luck