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Could you tell me which preposition I use before your phone number in the sentence below?

Abnormal activity has been registered in/on my phone number, which is why it's suspended.

If neither is correct, would you tell what preposition you would use? Also, if the sentence doesn't sound natural, could you tell how you would improve it?

1 Answer 1

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Abnormal activity has been registered in/on my phone number, which is why it's suspended.

Strangely, both "in" and "on" can work in this sentence, as well as "with". All three prepositions are fine, but for different reasons.

"In" works, because the phrase "your phone number" can stand in place of "your account" as a free substitution. Abnormal activity has been registered, that is-- written down, in your account, using your phone number. So this works.

"On" works, because "your phone number" is a label or name that can have aspersions placed on it, such as an accusation of abnormal activity. "Suspicion has been placed on my good name" is a parallel sentence that works for similar reasons.

"With" works, because the abnormal activity is associated with your phone number.

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  • In your phone number does not work, because no activity is occurring inside your phone number. There is no substitution for account, because the phone number is not an account. You would need to use on or with. Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 13:36
  • Speaking as a former Telcom customer service representative, phone number and account were definitely used 100% interchangeably. The writer of the sentence would have received the information from their telcom via a customer service representative, and so could certainly have heard it using "in", and thus repeated it. Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 13:59
  • This is a prime example of something that made sense to people inside an industry but it does not make sense to people outside the industry, for the reasons I've stated. Using in is non-normative and shows all the hallmarks of lingo, not common practice. Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 14:12
  • @RichardWinters If you worked in a retail/consumer where accounts typically only had one phone number, then sure. But I’ve worked corporate telecom, where one account may have thousands of phone numbers, and we very clearly distinguished the two.
    – StephenS
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 19:33

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