Fire alarm goes off

star100

Member
Spanish
How to use, i am always confused when someone says

Fire alarm goes off. Does it mean it started or coming to an end. Is there any other way can i we say to make it clear.

Many thanks
 
  • Silver_Biscuit

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    If the fire alarm goes off, it means it starts making noise. This is already completely clear. If there isn't actually a fire, it will often then need to be manually turned off. If it stops by itself, we might say that it has 'turned itself off' or simply 'stopped'.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    There are two problems:
    1. No one says, "Fire alarm goes off", they say "The fire alarm goes off." or "A fire alarm goes off.", etc.
    2. There is always context, and this will make "to go off" clear.
    3. "To go off" is a phrasal verb. Usually, there is a clearer non-phrasal verb:

    "The fire alarm starts."
    "The fire alarm sounds."
    "The fire alarm stops."
     
    Last edited:

    jaimehm

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    And I Have just received a phone call from my landlord saying that neighbours told him our fire alarm has been ringing for some day....Is ringing the word to use?

    Can sound/be on also work?
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    And I Have just received a phone call from my landlord saying that neighbours told him our fire alarm has been ringing for some day....Is ringing the word to use?

    Can sound/be on also work?
    It depends on the noise the particular alarm makes. Some do not have a “ringing” sound: they may buzz, or beep, or go off like a siren or klaxon horn. In those cases, “has been sounding” would be more accurate.

    I have to wonder, though, how a fire alarm could go off for such a long period and not be reported. Are you sure you’re not talking about a smoke detector in a single unit, rather than a fire alarm for an entire building?
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    In that case, "ringing" is wrong. Most smoke detectors buzz or beep. We'd probably say your smoke detector had been going off.
     
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