Why don't we use any auxiliary when answering phone calls? Would it be wrong if I used the auxiliary? ▪︎ Hello, George speaking. ▪︎ Hello, George is speaking.

  • You can omit 'is' or not. It is unusual to use the third person ('is') about oneself, though. Jan 1 at 12:57
  • But why are we allowed to omit it? Jan 1 at 14:31
  • 1
    It's called 'ellipsis'. In speech, people often leave out unnecessary information and speak in shorthand. Jan 1 at 14:41
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    You can say "This is George speaking" if you like. These are just time-saving conventions that evolved when it wasn't possible to know who the caller was. Jan 1 at 14:58
  • @KateBunting ... and when phone calls where charged by the time they lasted.
    – Stephie
    Jan 1 at 16:53

1 Answer 1


"George is speaking" would sound weird, because you could be saying that about someone else.

You'll find people say:

  • This is George speaking
  • You're speaking with George

But, 'George speaking' is perfectly correct.

You asked why we are omitting the word "is"... simply put, the way people answer the phone doesn't necessarily follow English grammar. In 1970s Britain, a common way to answer home telephones was to just say the name of your town (which identified your telephone exchange) followed by your phone number. Other people would use the family name and simply say something like "Smith residence". The idea was to announce where the phone was located so that the caller knew they had reached the correct number.

Also worth noting is that, if someone asks the person answering "may I speak to George", George may simply reply with one word "speaking". This is acceptable telephone etiquette.

  • And nearly all these "phone ettiquette" has now almost completely disappeared. Mobile phones mean that a phone is associated with a person, not a residence. Caller iD mean that these phrases used to identify the speaker are redundant. Moreover young people simply don't use phones as phones much - my kids would never use the landline, not to call nor would they ever pick it up if ringing.
    – James K
    Jan 1 at 21:24

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