When the teacher is already in the classroom, how to point him/her in a more polite way? "The teacher/teacher/our teacher or ..."

Teacher wrote something on the board in the session before last.

The teacher wrote something on the board in the session before last.

Our teacher wrote something on the board in the session before last.

Or something else?

  • 1
    The first version is normally only used by younger children - who also sometimes use Sir as a "proper noun". Rather less often, they might use Miss, but I've never heard Mrs or Ma'am used in this way. The second and third are effectively stylistic choices, perhaps partly affected by whether the speaker wants to explicitly reference the pupils as well, and/or identify himself as one of the people in the class. Of course, if the speaker was someone from the Education Board doing a teacher assessment, the last version probably wouldn't be appropriate. Aug 2, 2018 at 12:28
  • @FumbleFingers In your opinion, it's false to use "The teacher" when the teacher is in the classroom or not?
    – a.RR
    Aug 2, 2018 at 13:56
  • 1
    I never suggested anything like that - but since you ask, it's completely irrelevant whether the teacher is present or not. As I'm sure you realise, in almost all situations there couldn't possibly be a difference in meaning between our teacher and my teacher. Even if you're talking to your parents - they aren't pupils of your teacher, so they're not included in our, which is simply assumed to refer to their child speaker and his classmates (not ...and those being addressed). Are you still confused? Aug 2, 2018 at 16:37
  • Use of an article may depend on local use for professionals. E.G. "Doctor is in," is common in UK, "The doctor is in," is more common in the USA. This might also apply to "(the) teacher." And, @FumbleFingers states, in the examples you provide, it does not matter where (the) teacher is. Aug 2, 2018 at 18:39
  • @DrMoishe Pippik: I don't know where you got the idea that BrE is more likely than AmE to discard the article in Doctor is in. I've not noticed any such usage split. For what it's worth, I not that Google Books has a couple of dozen written instances of sign saying the doctor is in, but none at all for the article-less version (which still sounds American to me, since that particular kind of sign would rarely be seen in the UK in any circumstances; it's a different kind of health service). Aug 2, 2018 at 20:27

2 Answers 2


You can speak about the teacher with "the teacher" or "our teacher". Both are equally polite, and it doesn't matter whether the teacher is in the room or not.

But since he is your teacher it would be clearer to say "Mr. Smith" (or whatever his name is) When speaking about a person it is normally clearer to use their name. Even if you are speaking to someone who doesn't know the teacher you could say "Mr Smith, our teacher, wrote on the board..."

It is rarer to use "teacher" with no article. I've seen it in a few contexts, such as on end-of-year cards that say "Thank you teacher", but this a form of headlinese.


In english you don't use Teacher as a title, as opposed to Professor or Coach, and you don't use it to address someone. Where you might say "Coach, when are..." you don't say "Teacher, when are..."

Are you trying to say that you want to address the teacher and point out that he/she wrote something earlier? Because in that case you address him or her the usual way ("Sir", "Miss", "Mrs Smith", Professor X"...), followed by "you"

Mr Carter, you wrote something on the board in the session before last.

If you're trying to make someone else aware that the teacher, who is present, wrote something earlier, you could use the teacher's name.

Mr Carter wrote something on the board in the session before last.

However important it is to be courteous, it's OK to use "you" or "he"/"she" if the politeness is already taken care of.


Classmate: Mrs Anderson, why didn't you tell us earlier?

You: She wrote something on the board in the session before last.


Mrs Anderson: How did you know this?

You: You wrote something on the board in the session before last.

  • You know Mattias in the place where I live, it's not common to call a female teacher in her last name.
    – a.RR
    Aug 3, 2018 at 13:47
  • It's very unusual where i live too, after the so called you-reforms in the 1960's. We use first names almost exclusively, for men, women and children. But our son went to an English speaking school where they used Ms/Mr Lastname for all grownups.
    – Mattias
    Aug 3, 2018 at 16:20

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