(Person 1) Who've cut your phone line?

(Person 2) Burglars.

(Person 1) Burglars? Burglars cut your phone line?

(Person 2) Yes. My house was robbed last night.

Is the highlighted line phrased in a natural way in the context? Or would it be more natural to say "Did burglars cut your phone line?" or something third?

  • "Who've cut" looks odd. Why assume plural? "Who's cut", or simple past "Who cut" would be better.
    – James K
    Jan 16, 2021 at 16:01

2 Answers 2


When I read

Burglars? Burglars cut your phone line?

I assume the speaker is very surprised and almost disbelieving that such people could have done it. There would be a heavy stress on the word burglars in both parts of the sentence.

If for some reason it was the cutting which was the cause of the disbelief it would be

Burglars? They cut your phone line?

with heavy stress on the word cut.


If the person is a telephone technician, who would use specific words like this, or someone who repeats what he hears, then it is.

Someone who repeats what he hears is someone who is not paying attention to the speaker or just someone who repeats the words to hear them himself, and then understand,

Did burglars cut your phone line?, according to the context, is not. Too much repetion. Natural things, unless you are an expert which is used to repeat these phrases (as i said before), do not tend to repeat.

It would be better:

Did they?

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