Word of the Day: By Phone or On The Phone

Two things I need to say:

1. I am not a native speaker. Well, I know anyone reading this blog has already guessed that.

2. Sometimes I feel like a broken record posting on quick Word(s) of the Day but hey, guys, are you sure they aren’t helpful?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes and because English is not my first language I tend to neglect the use of some expressions and then, naturally and as a result of never using them, I often can’t say whether they are right or wrong. If you are a student…… relax! ;), nobody is asking you to know everything, in fact, I ‘ve always detested know-all students. They give me the creeps!But, if like me, you are a teacher, then you are supposed to know every single thing¬† about the English language. Unfortunately, this is not my case ūüôĀ

So, can you say  which of these is expressions is correct?

She’s talking to me by phone or she’s talking to me on the phone?

If you should ask me, the one I ‘ve always used¬† is on the phone but the fact that I never use the expression by phone doesn’t mean it is wrong. On the contrary, it is just perfect! So, both, are ok .

Can I just add that ¬†“over the phone ” is also correct? Some examples for you to read:

  • Today she’s talking to me by phone from the middle of Sudan
  • Last night we were able to talk by phone with my Australian relatives
  • You can discuss your complaint in person or by phone
  • Is he talking on the phone just now?
  • Doctors should not ¬†prescribe medicine over the phone


4 thoughts on “Word of the Day: By Phone or On The Phone

  1. Thanks . the truth is that I have never had a problem telling students that there is something I need to check . What is more, I even encourage them to look things up and then tell me . Thanks for dropping by!

  2. Thank you for your kind support. Exactly! I probably wouldn’t say any of these sentences in such an unnatural way but the question is not what my choice of words might be but whether to cross something off in an essay because it iswrong …. and I tend to forget that ,just because I don’t usually say it that way, it is necessarily wrong.I am sure you understand what I mean! Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Hi Cristina,
    Good question! Don’t feel you have to know everything. I’m a native speaker and I regularly check bits of language during my lessons!
    This is how I would say each of your sentences:
    She’s phoning me.
    Today she’s phoning me from the middle of Sudan
    Last night we were able to phone my Australian relatives
    You can discuss your complaint in person or over the phone
    Is he on the phone just now?
    Doctors should not prescribe medicine over the phone

    Hope that helps!
    Sandy

  4. Both are correct, only “by phone”, I believe, is less commonly used since it indicates that you are drawing attention to the medium used to carry out a conversation.

    No teacher knows everything there is to know about a subject, so it is quite normal to say “I don’t know that, I’ll look it up”. My old teacher at university used to say that.

    That doesn’t mean you are not a good teacher.

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