1. -goer 2. visitor 3. attendee 4. patron

So here are four words meaning a person going to public places that I've rounded up. I think the first two words are usable for most public places, but I wonder when I can't use the last two. For example, we might only often use "attendee" for people going to a meeting, but not people going to the cinema. I'm not sure about it though.

Context: I'm preparing for the IELTS exam and paraphrasing is critically important. Writing reports to charts showing information about public-place-goers, if that's a real word, is common in this exam so I'm just readying myself for this. You can suggest some other useful nouns in this case if you don't mind.

  • This question is not very clear. Almost all people go to public places, and for many different reasons. Do you mean people who go to public places because they are popular with others? People who go to public places to shop? If it’s just generic for any public event, the words you already provided work pretty well.
    – SegNerd
    Dec 17, 2023 at 4:47
  • Sorry for the confusion. I've just edited my op to make it clearer.
    – Ken Adams
    Dec 17, 2023 at 5:57

1 Answer 1


A "patron" is about spending money. If a person regularly pays to go to a certain place, you can describe them as a patron.

"-goer" is mostly limited to "churchgoer", "theatregoer" and "cinemagoer"

You can only be an attendee if you attend something, that is you go and stay. A visitor doesn't need to stay, only to visit.

But generally there isn't a word, nor a special description. People who are walking along the high street are not "high-street-goers" nor patrons of the high-street. And they aren't visiting or attending. They are just people.

A word you missed is for people in a shop, they are "customers".

  • How long does he have to stay to be called an attendee? Are there cinema/museum attendees (people who attend the cinema/museum)?
    – Ken Adams
    Dec 17, 2023 at 7:15
  • According to your explanation, I came up with the following sentence(s): The number of people/patrons/customers/visitors/attendees going to the cinema is increasing.
    – Ken Adams
    Dec 17, 2023 at 7:17
  • 1
    You can just use "people". I would avoid "attendees" completely (But I dislike -ee" nouns)
    – James K
    Dec 17, 2023 at 7:38
  • What about the verb "attend"? Is The number of people who attend the cinema every week is increasing natural enough to use in an essay?
    – Ken Adams
    Dec 17, 2023 at 8:09
  • 2
    @KenAdams To be an attendee, you need to have the intent to view (not necessarily all of) at least one event that happens at a predetermined time--whether that event is a presentation, a movie, a concert, or anything else. It doesn't make sense to talk about being an attendee of a museum, for instance, because the museum is open to be browsed at your leisure, but you might be an attendee of a special event the museum is running.
    – Hearth
    Dec 17, 2023 at 15:18

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