Sometimes, here, when I want to describe the situation of my sentence, I need to mention a word for the one who the sentence is for

What is the words for him?

I guess some

  • Reader
  • Listener?
  • Audience?
  • Target person?
  • you name ...

2 Answers 2


In talking about a discourse situation we usually speak of the 'hearer' or 'reader' to whom a 'speaker' or 'writer' addresses an utterance.

Among linguists, who accord the spoken language a distinct priority, 'speaker' and 'hearer' tend to embrace both spoken and written situations.

The linguist Renaat Declerck follows the interesting practice of always assigning the speaker the feminine pronoun she and the hearer the masculine pronoun he. If nothing else, this allows Declerck to deploy pronouns less ambiguously.

  • Interesting convention. My first thought was it's counter to the traditional masculine = active, feminine = passive principle - but since the whole concept of any such gender-based distinctions has become somewhat associated with "sexism" among Anglophones, I guess at least this one has the benefit of being amenable to the "mnemonic" as highlighted in your text. Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 15:38

It depends on the medium through which you are expressing yourself. If you were on television (or internet streaming, or any other video medium), you would say "viewer" to refer to your audience.

At a live speech, the speaker usually refers to the audience as "ladies and gentlemen," although listener is also used (especially if the speaker is broadcasting over radio or internet, but isn't streaming video). Live speakers also sometimes address the audience in second person directly as "you," but this isn't considered formal decorum as far as I am aware.

In writing or any text-based medium, "reader" is the most common word I've seen used to refer to the audience.

In addition to all of the medium-specific terms, you can always simply use "one" to refer to any single, not-defined person. This is frequently used in technical or instructional documents. Example: "To reduce pressure, one needs only to rotate the valve counter-clockwise."

  • For example I can say if I say this, the hearer will understand that ... but can I use one in replace of hearer?
    – Ahmad
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 16:10
  • Yes. In English "one" is a gender-neutral indefinite pronoun, and can be used in most any construction where the subject of the sentence is unknown or otherwise should not be directly addressed. However, it is considered formal, and less common in American English than British. In a conversational tone with an American audience, it will seem out of place.
    – TBridges42
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 17:17
  • 1
    @Ahmad it would be "one" in place of "the hearer" (since we're not talking about The Matrix, "The One" has little relevance here) specifically. But like TBridges42 said it's a pretty formal way to refer to the reader and usually used in academic papers or formal speeches.
    – Crazy Eyes
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 18:52

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