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My students very often use the expression "I am on my phone", which I consider as being wrong. Am I right?

Actually, in recent years people, and especially young people, have started using the expression in French je suis toute le temps sur mon téléphone t to express the idea that they use their phone all day long. In French, this is rather informal.

  1. Can we say "I am on my phone" or does it only mean someone literally sits on his/her phone?
  2. Is there a way of saying it differently than "I am using my phone all day long"?
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  • I thought it was Je suis au téléphone in French. But what do I know? In English (which I do know a bit more about), you could in principle say I'm phoning all day long (or even I phone all day long) if you don't want to use any preposition at all, but they're not necessarily very natural for most contexts. Dec 14, 2019 at 18:15
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    Could edit your post to clarify what you're looking for? Are you looking for a formal alternative? What is wrong with "I am using my phone all day long"? In what context do you intend to use it?
    – Em.
    Dec 14, 2019 at 19:15
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    Actually, it (je suis sur mon téléphone) does not mean "je suis au téléphone" but I use my phone all the time. Besides, the idea is not that they (my students) phone all day long but rather that they use their phones all day long, for example to watch videos, to listen to music, to go on social media, ... Thanks for your help, that is very kind.
    – Sev
    Dec 15, 2019 at 6:50

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Your students are correct. "I'm on my phone" is the normal idiomatic way to say I'm using my phone.

It is not particularly informal. It could be used in essay writing, for example, but it is also common in spoken English.

In the past, this would have been understood to mean "I am talking to people using a telephone." And some older people would continue to understand it this way. But most people now know that "phones" can do more than make calls. Most people would understand that when a teenager is "on their phone" they might be playing a game or watching a video.

Note that "I'm on the phone" has a different nuance. This suggests I am talking to someone.

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  • Dear James, Thanks a lot for your precise answer. That clarifies everything. Thanks a lot.
    – Sev
    Dec 17, 2019 at 18:17

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