I was talking with some friends in Discord and I wrote this small text to them as follows:

A dude was hit by a car right in front of my house.
There was so much blood.
An Ambulance took him though. I hope he recovers.
Disclaimer: he was drunk though.

My friends asked me if I was saying the Driver or the Pedestrian was drunk. Which I replied, saying that I was referring to the Pedestrian.

One of my friends said that he assumed the Driver was drunk because it don't make sense any other way.

I always assumed that when I am talking about one specific subject, I don't need to specify him anymore throughout the text, "he" would always be implied on the subject I am talking about, unless there is a clear indication I changed.

Is this wrong?

  • Your text is incoherent. I wouldn't try to infer anything from it. Oct 27, 2021 at 18:14
  • I just tried to stick to what i wrote on Discord, i edited it though, i hope it helps.
    – Zorkind
    Oct 27, 2021 at 18:20
  • Fixed, @Lambie, about it not making sense, noted. Anything else?
    – Zorkind
    Oct 27, 2021 at 19:10
  • Nope, that's it. There's only one guy. So, I guess he was drunk.
    – Lambie
    Oct 28, 2021 at 1:28
  • 1
    Syntactically speaking, since the only person referenced by preceding text is a dude, that's the only possible referent for the pronouns he, him. Oct 28, 2021 at 13:00

2 Answers 2


This is clearly a very casual report, with lots that need to be filled in from context.

It is ambiguous. "He" means "the male person whose identity you can work out from context". You've mentioned a "dude" that was hit by a car. That is one possible referent of the pronoun.

But in this very casual writing, it is quite possible that you mean "the driver". As soon as you say "He was drunk" in the context of an Road Traffic Accident you immediately think of "drunk driving" (since it would be reasonable to mention that the driver was drunk as this could explain why he didn't avoid the "dude".) That makes more sense, but doesn't really fit with the grammatical structure of what has gone before. After all, why would you mention the state of the "dude"? What does that have to do with the reasons for the accident?

So there is a marked stress between the referent implied by the grammar and the referent implied by the meaning. In case like this you often find that different people resolve this stress in different ways, and this is what you have here.

The easiest way to fix this is to just delete the final line (why mention that the "dude" was drunk"?) Alternatively explain why it is relevant.

Disclaimer: He was drunk, so he might have walked in front of the car.


Disclaimer: The driver was drunk, and didn't know what he was doing.

The word "Disclaimer" looks very odd in this context. Do you really mean "a statement that denies your responsibility." ?

  • Thanks for spending time answering, James. Granted it is a very casual writing because I was talking to some friends in Discord. I understand your points and it makes sense, perhaps i should not have used the disclaimer word in there, i wanted to take out any blame from the driver and I totally failed I guess.
    – Zorkind
    Oct 27, 2021 at 18:23
  • The trouble is that "drunk driving" is a thing but "drunk walking* isn't. As soon as you say "He was drunk" in the context of an RTA you immediately think of "drunk driviing"
    – James K
    Oct 27, 2021 at 18:28
  • @JamesK What's an RTA? I can infer it's some kind of car crash...
    – gotube
    Oct 27, 2021 at 18:39
  • 1
    Road Traffic Accident (police jargon, I'm not sure how wide spread the acronym is)
    – James K
    Oct 27, 2021 at 18:42

I have to take a different angle from several so far. I think, grammatically, there's no reason to suppose that "he" meant "the driver of the car" and every reason to suppose it meant the pedestrian. It's only a force of habit that would cause someone to jump to the conclusion that it refers to a driver.

The most important reason that "he" doesn't refer to the driver: The driver of the car was never mentioned. You said "a dude was hit by a car." Now, this doesn't totally settle anything, since it could be reasonable to use a pronoun to refer to an implied driver if context made that clear; if the last line had been "He was going 80 miles per hour," it would clearly refer to a driver (though it might be confused, at that point, with the driver of the ambulance).

The second most important reason (or is it really the first?) is that you had just used "he" in the previous sentence, clearly referring to the pedestrian: "I hope he recovers." If you had meant the pronoun "he" in the next sentence to refer to someone else... well, then you couldn't have used a pronoun, and would have to specify "the driver."

Now, the confusion is understandable since drunk driving is a frequent topic, so your friend's frame of reference leaped to a familiar conclusion. (But "drunk walking" most certainly is a thing; type "drunk pedestrian" into Google, and it autocompletes "hit by car," and the results are full of lawyers eager to advise you on what share of the blame might fall to the pedestrian in such a case.) Certainly, it could be helpful to have specified "the pedestrian" rather than use "he," but you were not negligent in using the pronoun.

(To other charges that have been mentioned: No, I couldn't call your account "incoherent." I understood everything perfectly. Standard capitalization and punctuation rules can be understood to be suspended in a chat-room context. And while "disclaimer" is more often used in a situation where you're qualifying something about yourself rather than someone else, it was perfectly understandable.)

  • Wow, I got my comment removed, I don't understand what happened, anyway I just wanted to Thank you Andy, for answering and perfectly understanding my thought process with this.
    – Zorkind
    Oct 27, 2021 at 19:48

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