When it comes to communication, clarity is key. The military has developed a number of standardized phrases and protocols to ensure that messages are received and passed down accurately. Two of the most common phrases you may hear in military communication are “Copy that” and “Roger that.” While these phrases are often used interchangeably, they actually have slightly different meanings and uses.
The phrase “Copy that” is used to confirm that a message has been received and understood. It is often used in radio communication, but can also be used in person or over other forms of communication. When receiving a message, the listener may say “Copy that” to indicate that they have received the message and understood its content.
In military contexts, “Copy that” can also be used to request confirmation of a specific part of a message. For example, if a commander orders his unit to move to a specific location, a soldier may respond with “Copy that, sir. Move to location X?” to confirm that they understood the location correctly before taking action.
Similar to “Copy that,” “Roger that” is used to confirm that a message has been received and understood. However, “Roger that” is also used to indicate that a specific action has been taken or will be taken. For example, if a pilot receives instructions to fly to a specific altitude, they may respond with “Roger that” to indicate that they have received the message and will adjust their altitude accordingly.
In some cases, “Roger that” may also be used to acknowledge a request or order. For example, a soldier may be instructed to report to their commanding officer for a specific task. They may respond with “Roger that” to acknowledge the order and indicate that they will report as instructed.
Differences between Copy that and Roger that:
While both phrases can be used to confirm receipt of a message, “Copy that” is focused more on understanding the message and “Roger that” is focused on confirming action. A listener may say “Copy that” to confirm they received a message, but may say “Roger that” to indicate that they received the message and will act on it.
Another difference is that “Copy that” is often used to confirm specific parts of a message, while “Roger that” is more broadly used to acknowledge the message as a whole. For example, a listener may say “Copy that” when confirming a location or time, but may say “Roger that” when confirming a complex mission or set of instructions.
Usage in popular culture:
While “Copy that” and “Roger that” were originally developed for military communication, they have become more widely used in popular culture. They are often used in movies and TV shows that feature military or first responder characters. “Copy that” and “Roger that” have become somewhat cliché in these contexts, but are still commonly used.
Additionally, the phrases have been adopted by civilians in certain professional contexts. For example, pilots and air traffic controllers often use “Roger that” to confirm instructions and coordinate flights.
1. Is it okay to use “Roger that” and “Copy that” in civilian communication?
Yes, it is perfectly fine to use these phrases in civilian communication, particularly in professional contexts where clear communication is important.
2. How do I know when to use “Copy that” vs “Roger that”?
If you are confirming receipt of a message, you can use either phrase. However, if you are confirming that you will take specific action or make a specific adjustment based on the message, “Roger that” may be a better choice.
3. Are “Copy that” and “Roger that” used in all branches of the military?
Yes, both phrases are used in all branches of the military, as well as in other first responder contexts such as police and fire departments.
4. Are there any other commonly used phrases in military communication?
Yes, there are many other standardized phrases used in military communication, such as “Affirmative,” “Negative,” “Wilco” (short for “will comply”), and “Copy on the bounce” (indicating receipt of a message while in motion).