The word someone is used for human beings but I am having a hard time understanding if it is also used for animals!


If you hear the word someone it almost certainly refers to a human being. Some people will use it fancifully to refer to a pet or other animal, but even then it will be ascribing human characteristics or personality traits to the animal.

For example, if the pet dog comes begging for food, the owner might say, "Well, looks like someone is hungry."

But if out of the blue you said, "Someone came to the door today," nobody would think you were talking about an animal.

  • 3
    I think it would be less unusual to refer to a pet (either one's own, or a familiar neighborhood animal that is known or believed to be someone's pet) as "someone" than to refer to a pet as "something". At least to my ear, "someone was scratching at the base of the door" would suggest a domestic animal like a cat or dog; "something" would be more suggestive of a racoon or opossum. – supercat Jun 29 '15 at 16:04
  • Which is why I used the example of a pet. – Robusto Jun 29 '15 at 16:40
  • The use of someone for pets, especially when ostensively talking "to" them is well established I think. I wonder if I can find a nice psychological explanation. – DRF Jun 30 '15 at 7:53

Agreed with Robusto.

It could be used for (non-human) animals IF the user is implying that the animals have a "being" that is equivalent to humans. For example, in fantasy literature or New Age Spirituality.

"He had the feeling that someone was watching him." could mean a wolf in the forest, if the writer is ascribing some level of sentience to the wolf, for example.

However, such uses are very specific and outside the norm.

  • 3
    In your forest example, there would have to be a huge amount of context setting this up before I would assume that "someone" could mean awolf, rather than a person. Or, to be more precise, I would understand your example sentence as meaning, "He felt that a person was watching him, even though, dear reader, we know it was a wolf." – David Richerby Jun 29 '15 at 7:31
  • 1
    Yeah, there's no way I can see you'd ever read that - it would be someone or something - human, or not – Darren Sweeney Jun 29 '15 at 12:47

Re: the forest; If a human was the 'watcher' then the writer would use "someone" and this would communicate some form of danger or mystery.

If the writer wanted to suggest an animal, he/she would use "it" which leaves open the possibility of a threat (e.g. a predator) or mere curiosity (e.g. a rabbit or bird).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.