If you go to the local government office for some requests, you talk with a person working in the office. How do you call them? I know some words like a government official, civil servant, office staff, office clerk. I'm not sure how I should designate them.

For example, let's say I make a conversation with a friend.

I went to a local government office and spoke with _____

What's a suitable word for the blank?

1 Answer 1


Having worked in the British civil service myself, I can tell you that most grades dealing with members of the public are officers of some level, for example, the historical administrative grades were administrative officers, executive officers, higher executive officers etc. At local government level, many workers are still called "government officers" (see example). Sometimes they have a specific job title relating to the service they provide, but unless you knew what that was "officer" is a pretty generic term that covers most roles and would be understood.

So you might say:

I went to a local government office and spoke with an officer.

  • Thanks for your answer. Is there any reason you prefer 'spoke' than 'told'? Jun 12, 2020 at 12:05
  • A lot of UK Government departments have dome away with the old AO - EO - HEO grades. My own grade is a letter of the alphabet. Jun 12, 2020 at 12:19
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    @kevin012 yes, we don't say "told with". It is the past participle of "tell", so we would only use it in connection with a specific statement, eg "I told him what to do". You could say "spoke with" or "talked to".
    – Astralbee
    Jun 12, 2020 at 12:22
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    Kevin - Told with is not a valid expression for having a conversation. If you tell someone something, you give them a piece of information. Jun 12, 2020 at 12:23
  • @MichaelHarvey Noted, I've added in that those were historic titles. Local government workers are still called officers, I've added a supporting link. I currently work in the NHS, and while we ditched the Whitley Council pay scales some 15 years ago, many roles still contain the term "officer".
    – Astralbee
    Jun 12, 2020 at 12:24

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