Here is a situation:

One teacher conducts the same activity in class during the first ten minutes of each lesson: she shows the back side of a flashcard to the students, describes what is depicted on the flash card and asks students to tell her what it is. After having received about four or five answers, she turns the front side of the flash card to students to let them know if they were right or wrong.

Students are not required in this activity to raise their hands before they say anything. Also, it is not mandatory for each student - only those who are willing to voice out their guesses can do that. Others are free to remain silent.

One girl whose name is Mandy was not active in this during the first two months of the semester, which means she always remained silent. However, during the third month, she became quite active, and even more active during the fourth month.

The teacher is writing in her diary:

“Mandy’s guesses are more and more frequent these days…”


I wonder if the word “guesses” is a good choice here. What the teacher wants to put down in her diary is not just the fact of there being guesses on the part of Mandy, but the fact that Mandy is now shouting them out (after all, guesses can pop up and still stay in Mandy's mind, that is, not voiced by her yet still evident somehow – for example, in her facial expressions).

However, using the words “responses” or “answers” don’t seem to be a good choice either because they don’t convey the guesswork connotation.

So, what word (or a phrase) would you use here?

  • I don't really see the need to clarify the word. But if you have to make a distinction, you could say public guesses. Nov 2, 2018 at 7:46
  • A guess is a guess. Unless written on paper, one would say: to verbalize a guess. Whatever the teacher meant we can only guess. There is not enough context.
    – Lambie
    Nov 2, 2018 at 14:25
  • If the teacher describes what's on the card, is she doing so in a manner that is designed to mislead or to give only the smallest of clues? Why do the students need to guess if they're having the thing described to them? Or is she describing the thing using a foreign language they might not understand very well? I don't get the scenario.
    – TimR
    Nov 2, 2018 at 18:00
  • @Lambie: “Whatever the teacher meant we can only guess” – The question is not about what that teacher meant, but about how you as a native speaker would describe that situation if you were in that teacher’s place.
    – brilliant
    Nov 3, 2018 at 11:19
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo: “is she doing so in a manner that is designed to mislead or to give only the smallest of clues?” – Only the smallest of clues. For example, she says, “It is a mammal and it is white and black”. Children may say, “Zebra!”, but then the teacher turns around the flashcard and it is a panda, instead. So, it’s not a case of a full description, but rather a partial one.
    – brilliant
    Nov 3, 2018 at 11:21

3 Answers 3


Now that we know that the teacher is just giving some basic clues, guessing is what the students are doing. That's the right word.

However, an editor of the diary making a posthumous edition could find the following rather cryptic if he or she was in the dark about what was going on in the classroom:

Mandy’s guesses are more and more frequent these days.

Maybe "WTF" will still be in use when that posthumous editing takes place :)

So the diarist might want to write something like this:

Mandy's participation in our classroom guessing game has greatly increased.

Class participation is a very common collocation that refers to a student's volunteering answers and asking questions in class.

  • WOW! You've nailed it!
    – brilliant
    Nov 3, 2018 at 14:01
  • Many of these OP's questions could not be guessed from what is given as context. It could be just about anything. And who are we to "correct" a teacher's diary which presumably is for his/her eyes only?
    – Lambie
    Nov 4, 2018 at 15:15
  • @Lambie: I asked a question above and received an answer from OP. I did not guess. As for your comment about "correcting" a diary, you simply haven't understood the gist of my remark.
    – TimR
    Nov 5, 2018 at 10:41

You could preface that sentence to provide some more context.

"Mandy is starting to gain confidence; her guesses are more and more frequent these days"


"Mandy is becoming more involved in the activity. Her guesses are more and more frequent these days"

That said, I don't think it's necessary to clarify since this is a diary entry, especially if the classroom exercise was previously explained or shown.

  • I agree with the diary entry part. Guesses can be construed as positive or negative. There is not enough context to tell one way or the other.
    – Lambie
    Nov 2, 2018 at 14:23
  • @Lambie: “Guesses can be construed as positive or negative. There is not enough context to tell one way or the other” – Whether the guesses were positive or negative is absolutely irrelevant here. What really matters, however, is that the student named Mandy did not even attempt to voice any of her guesses (if she had them at all) at the beginning of the semester, but toward the end of it became quite active in doing that – regardless of whether her guesses were correct or wrong.
    – brilliant
    Nov 3, 2018 at 11:20
  • @brilliant to guess answers, to voice an opinion, not: voice guesses.
    – Lambie
    Nov 3, 2018 at 14:44
  • @Lambie - I mean she might have had some guesses on her mind, but was reluctant to ... (voice?) them.
    – brilliant
    Nov 3, 2018 at 15:09

If the teacher wants to refer to the act of saying her guesses aloud, she could say, "Mandy is verbalizing her guesses aloud more frequently than before."

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