I have translated teacher into English. There is: teacher, instructor, professor, mentor, guru.

Hypothesis: teacher is a hypernym; instructor is for driving lessons, climbing, running; professor is a university one; mentor offers private classes only in certain fields; and guru is a term outside of schools for an expert in something.

I am studying the difference between them.

Which one of them is a high school teacher? How about art school teacher? How about instructor in car driving? Is one of them a hypernym?

Note: I prefer the American English.

1 Answer 1


You are correct in your hypothesis that teacher is a hypernym. You could certainly say that instructor, professor, mentor, and guru are all more specific terms for teacher.

As for your specific questions:

If you are talking about someone teaching high school, you use teacher.

I had a good math teacher and a bad science teacher in high school.

When it comes to art school teacher, I think teacher is acceptable. It certainly doesn't sound weird. I think it might also depend on the institution, but I imagine that instructor would work, too. This is because instructor can be used as someone who is teaching at a higher level than high school (like at a university or, I would guess, an art school) but isn't necessarily a professor.

Your use of instructor for driving is very appropriate. You could swap out teacher if you wanted and most people wouldn't even notice, but they are most often called "driving instructors".

  • I would say that an instructor was someone who taught a very practical skill such as driving or scuba diving. 'Mentor' is a more metaphorical term for someone an individual sees as a wise advisor to them personally. A guru is a Hindu religious teacher. Dec 2, 2016 at 9:38
  • I know guru in the field of seduction - Mystery. So I do not thing that guru is only for Hindu.
    – cornejo
    Dec 2, 2016 at 10:01

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