What do you call "voice-overs" that actually represent what the character in the ad thinks? Is it still a voice-over? The definitions say voice-over refer to remarks spoken by someone who is not seen on the screen. Think of those silly masculine car commercials, "I am strong and successful, that's why I ride a gas-guzzling SUV, give people cancer, and melt those snowflake ice caps," but his lips don't move!

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    Voice-over implies nothing about the content of what is being said. It only means that the person speaking is not seen on-screen. Nov 30, 2022 at 9:23
  • @KateBunting but what if they on-screen, but don't actually say it with their lips? It's what I'm asking. It common in commercials Nov 30, 2022 at 9:41
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    If the voice-over is supposed to be voicing the character's thoughts, it still counts as a voice-over. Nov 30, 2022 at 9:44

2 Answers 2


It's called Internal Dialog.
It allows the audience to know what the character on-screen is thinking without it being 'heard' by other characters in the scene.
It can occasionally be seen as the character speaking aloud to themselves, with no-one else there to listen.

In psychology it's known as 'internal monologue' - because, of course, there's only one person speaking… to themselves. Movies just tend to use the term dialog for any speech, even if that speech is actually a monologue.

See StudioBinder: What is Internal Dialogue — Definition, Examples & Techniques for a movie-based explanation, or Wikipedia: Monologue or Voice Over, though neither really covers internal dialog as used in cinema.

Sorry, I'm mixing my spellings too - dialog is US, dialogue is UK. I'm so used to seeing both that I hardly differentiate any longer.

  • I’m American and use “dialogue” most of the time, at least for a conversation between two people. I think “dialog” in my head is for the interactive windows that pop up in an app (e.g. confirmation dialog). But I don’t think either is 100% consistent. I dunno, both just seem valid to me.
    – KRyan
    Nov 30, 2022 at 18:40
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    "use the term dialog for any speech, even if that speech is actually a monologue" - this is because a dialog is anything spoken, regardless of how many participants there are. "Dia" relates to speech, unlike "duo" which would mean two. A duologue would be a conversation between two people. And yes, I am pretty arbitrary with my choice of -g or -gue endings too, being in the UK but having written extensively for US audiences of technical documentation with struct style guides.
    – AdamV
    Dec 1, 2022 at 12:39
  • @AdamV - fair point. I think I did know that, but it's way back in my distant memories somewhere. Dec 1, 2022 at 12:41

It's still a voice-over.

A voice-over doesn't imply anything about the content of the speech, merely that it's just not being said by someone on-screen. Someone "thinking" someone on screen still doesn't count as them saying it.

However, the specific incident of voice over could be referred to as:

  • Narration
  • Internal Monologue
  • Stream of Consciousness

None of that changes the fact that it's still a voice over though.

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    Yes, it's still voiceover, technically, but it's no longer narration if it's the character's thoughts [it could possibly be exposition] & not necessarily stream of consciousness; that would be a further sub-division. Dec 1, 2022 at 7:56

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