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

5 Answers 5


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.

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    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, 2015 at 16:04
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    Which is why I used the example of a pet.
    – Robusto
    Jun 29, 2015 at 16:40
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    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, 2015 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.

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    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." Jun 29, 2015 at 7:31
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    Yeah, there's no way I can see you'd ever read that - it would be someone or something - human, or not
    – StudioTime
    Jun 29, 2015 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).


I would very much concur that "someone" would definitely be applicably in almost all situations in reference to a pet, even if that pet is diverse (antelope/lion/etc). However this usually only applies to people who have had pets themselves, to someone who has never enjoyed an animal's company, nor seen it's desire to understand and better yet actually observe it's learning. To these people the idea of "someone" as in application of any being less than humanity seems to be the act of hysteria.

Having said all that, does anyone know of a word that would apply to both evenly? In any context, would you be able to say "I meet many people" and clearly mean both dogs and humans? I don't think so. You couldn't say "I meet many someones" that sounds terrible whichever side of this debate you are on.

I thought "personalities" maybe, but this sounds misleading at best.


I have to take offense by some of the answers here. "Someone" could definitely be used to refer to a non-human animal, and why not? They're sentient, aware, intelligent, emotional, social, empathetic, and every individual is unique... By referring to animals as things, we degrade them to mere objects that serve humans either as food or entertainment (such as a "pet"). This is an example of speciesism. It's unfortunate that most humans are conditioned to be speciesists from birth, and our objectification of animals is but one consequence of this, to say nothing of the exploitation and abuses (physical and otherwise) we inflict upon them on a daily basis all around the world. Hopefully this will change in the near future, as no one deserves to suffer injustice.

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