Omitting verbs, can I say "Two tangos dead", "Two tangos dead ahead", "Two tangos coming", "Two tanks down", "Two tanks over there" ?

Is it colloquially acceptable to omit "is", "are" verbs like above?

(Tango means target as a military term)

2 Answers 2


Colloquially, yes, that's how people often talk, especially something like a warning.

"Car coming!"

It also happens in headlines and titles, but would be unusual in any other context, eg when telling a story.

  • Maybe, is "Game over" to do with my question as well?
    – GKK
    Mar 3, 2020 at 15:44
  • 1
    Sort of, @Zenith. It's more like the "headlines and titles" thing - that also extends to information messages. Although people do say "Game over", I don't think this is actually a shortened sentence ("The game is over") but more a catch-phrase, taken from the message displayed at the end of a computer game. I don't think somebody would remark "Game finished" - though they might well say "Game's finished", with the article omitted, but not the verb.
    – Colin Fine
    Mar 3, 2020 at 15:51

Military commands, orders, and general language is very concise.

  • "Enemy down!"
  • "Enemy sighted!"
  • "Tank 70%°"
  • "Medic!"
  • "Bravo left hill; Alpha on me!"

Military tends to shorten all that can be shortened for quick strategic manipulation and high effectiveness.

  • That may be true, but I don't think tthere's anything particularly military here. See my answer.
    – Colin Fine
    Mar 3, 2020 at 15:43

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