Phonetics/Q Signals

SARA Home Page ~ last update:  19 Oct 2023

Phonetic Alphabet & Q-Signals

ITU Phontic Alphabet

The International Telecommunications Union [ITU] is the international organization coordinating global radio usage. The Amateur Radio organizational unit of the ITU is the International Amateur Radio Union [IARU]. The use of a common alphabet and pronunciation for communication is highly recommended by these organizations. Consistent worldwide usage improves the ability to communicate quickly and accurately. The following table lists the current recommended values. The use of "other" representations should be discouraged.

The bold face syllables in the Pronunciation area are to be emphasized.

English speakers should note the lack of an "R-sound" in the letters "O" and "V" phonetic representations.

Q Signals

Q-signals are a set of abbreviations used to save time during communications. They even allow communication between operators who don’t speak a common language. While Q-signals were originally developed for use by Morse operators (CW), modern hams use them with mostly all modes (phone, RTTY, etc.). You will often hear, "QRZ?" which translates to "Is someone calling me?" or "I’m getting a little QRM." which is "I’m receiving some interference."; or perhaps "Let’s QSY up 2" as operators change from a frequency to a slightly higher frequency (up 2 kHz). Q-signals are a radio shorthand method older than the start of wireless (radio) communication they were initially developed for use with the even older telegraphy codes (telegraph wires). The table below lists the more common Q-signals currently used by hams.

Abbr.     Statement / Question
QLF I am sending with my left foot. Are you sending with your left foot? {Derogatory comment.}
QNB I have x/y buttons on the radio (total/number I know how to use). How many buttons on your radio? {Ex. QNB 100/7}
QNI You may check in.. May I join the net?
QRA The name (call sign) of my station is.. What is the call sign of your station?
QRG Your exact frequency (or that of ______) is _________kHz. Will you tell me my exact frequency (or that of __________)?
QRH Your frequency varies. Does my frequency vary?
QRI The tone of your transmission is (1. Good; 2. Variable; 3. Bad). How is the tone of my transmission?
QRJ I have ___ words to send. How many words have you to send?
QRK The readability of your signal (or those of ...) is ... (1 to 5). What is the readability of my signal (or those of __________)?
QRL I am busy (or I am busy with _________). Are you busy? Usually used to see if a frequency is busy.
QRM Your transmission is being interfered with _________ (1. Nil; 2. Slightly; 3. Moderately; 4. Severely; 5. Extremely.) Is my transmission being interfered with?
QRN I am troubled by static _________. (1 to 5 as under QRM.) Are you troubled by static?
QRO Increase power. Shall I increase power?
QRP Decrease power. Shall I decrease power?
QRQ Send faster (_________wpm). Shall I send faster?
QRR I am ready for automatic operation. Are you ready for automatic operation?
QRS Send more slowly (_________wpm). Shall I send more slowly?
QRT Stop sending. Shall I stop sending?
QRU I have nothing for you. Have you anything for me?
QRV I am ready. Are you ready?
QRX I will call you again at ______hours (on ______kHz). When will you call me again? Minutes are usually implied rather than hours.
QRZ You are being called by _________ (on ______kHz). Who is calling me?
QSA The strength of your signal is (1. scarcely perceptible, 2. weak, 3. fairly good, 4. good, 5. very good). What is the my signal strength?
QSB Your signals are fading. Are my signals fading?
QSK I can hear you between signals; break in on my transmission. Can you hear me between your signals and if so can I break in on your transmission?
QSL I am acknowledging receipt. Can you acknowledge receipt (of a message or transmission)?
QSM Repeat the last message (telegram) which you sent me. Shall I repeat the last message (telegram) I sent (or some previous message)?
QSO I can communicate with _________ direct (or relay through ______). Can you communicate with ______ direct or by relay?
QSP I will relay to ______. Will you relay to ______?
QST General call preceding a message addressed to all amateurs and ARRL members. This is in effect "CQ ARRL."
QSX I am listening to ______ on ______kHz. Will you listen to ______on ______kHz?
QSY Change to transmission on another frequency (or on ______kHz). Shall I change to transmission on another frequency (or on ______kHz)?
QTC I have ______messages for you (or for ______). How many messages have you to send?
QTG I am going to send two dashes of ten seconds each followed by callsign. Will you send two dashes of ten seconds followed by callsign (or will you request ... to send two dashes of ten seconds followed by call sign)?
QTH My location is _________. What is your location (latitude & longitude)?
QTR The time is _________. What is the correct time?
QTX I will keep my station open for further communication until ___ hours. Will you keep your station open for further communication until further notice (or until ___ hours)? 

There are a few others, but they are not in  very popular use, thus not listed here. Try 'Wikipedia'  or 'ARRL' for additional information.