by/over/on/ the phone

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Enlasarenas, Sep 2, 2005.

  1. Enlasarenas

    Enlasarenas Senior Member

    Spain, Spanish-Galician
    A student of mine wants to know if she could say "Talk by phone". I'm more familiar with to talk on/over the phone. Thanks!

    PSIONMAN Senior Member

    Nottingham, UK
    Br English
    Perhaps a bit more context would help

    You can communicate by phone, but you are right, you usually talk on the phone
  3. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    "Talk by phone" is fine.

    "Hey let's not talk by phone, I think the line is tapped."

    "Why not tell her in person? You just don't pick up the body language when you talk by phone, that's why you two are miscommunicating."

    You can see it means something different from "talk on the phone."
  4. Gordonedi

    Gordonedi Senior Member

    UK (Scotland) English
    I don't often see "talk over the phone". The word "over" is more often used with a technical edge :
    "This information is provided over the phone rather than in writing"
    "Your opinion is being sought over the phone."

    The original terminology was to speak at the telephone, referring to where the user was standing or sitting in front of a fixed piece of equipment.

  5. Enlasarenas

    Enlasarenas Senior Member

    Spain, Spanish-Galician
    Thank you all for enlightening me with your always insightful comments!!:)

    Long live this forum!!!

  6. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    You can reach me by phone or via e-mail.
    I was on the phone for hours last night.
    Messages can be miscommunicated over the phone.
  7. Nick

    Nick Senior Member

    Western USA
    USA, English
    I also add "using the phone" and "via phone".
  8. Skater New Member

    It is still not quite clear to me what is the best? or the most commonly used variant?
    "She likes to talk on/over/by the phone"?

    Thanks in advance
  9. mapache-pcp Member

    S Florida
    " by phone" is correct int he sentence the original poster gave, but is less common.
  10. CaruraLeam Senior Member

    United Kingdom
    "I speak on the phone" and "I talk on the phone" and "I am on the phone".
    Shouldn't "over" and "by" be used when one is using the phone as a "mean"?
    Natives help us!
  11. Cagey post mod

    English - US
    I think that in general, your rule is pretty good, Caruraleam. :)

    I talk on the phone. I speak on the phone.

    I communicate by phone. I reach her by phone. We keep in contact by phone.

    I might conduct a lot of business over the phone. I think "over the phone" is OK in some contexts, but I am not as likely to use over as by.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2010

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