Suppose a successful university student who has reached to many scientific and academic achievements. You want to ask about their motives and especially someone who encouraged them in that difficult route. How you would ask about it:

  • Who was your encourager?

Or when they want to reply that:

  • I did not have any encourager. I loved to learn myself.

I didn't found the encourager definition in any online dictionary, but in my personal dictionary, it is used in many sentences.

Does it sound natural to you? How should I say it to make a better sense to the listener?


2 Answers 2


No, "Who was your encourager?"does not sound natural, although it is not ungrammatical.

Did you have a mentor?

Was there a person who kept encouraging you?

  • Thank you very much TRomano. And how they can deny the existence of an encourager? (How he / she can say that they had no anyone who kept encouraging them?)
    – A-friend
    Sep 18, 2016 at 12:56
  • "I had no one to encourage me but persevered on my own." Sep 18, 2016 at 12:58
  • Does it sound natural to say: "Who was your mentor?" Doesn't it sound a bit too formal?
    – A-friend
    Sep 18, 2016 at 12:59
  • In the context of academic and scientific achievements it is quite natural and hardly too formal. Sep 18, 2016 at 13:00

Encourager is not a "standard" role—we do not presuppose that some encouraging person stands behind any particular action—so it's unlikely to be encountered except in a context where some such person has already been identified. And even there it's not likely to be used; we're more likely to ask

Who encouraged you?

If there's no such preparation, we'd probably say

Did anybody encourage you?

I Googled the word, and the only context in which I found encourager much used without preparation is in discussion of relationships on Christian websites:

Why We Are Called to Be Encouragers —Living on the Edge

How to Be Your Spouse's Chief Encourager —Today's Christian Woman

Be an Encourager —Crosswalk

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