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17 English Phrasal Verbs With Call

In this study guide, we will teach you 17 common phrasal verbs with ‘call’. Keep reading to find out their many meanings, explore real native examples of phrasal verbs in context, and try our exercises at the end to test your understanding!

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17 phrasal verbs with ‘call’

 1. CALL AFTER
  1. To give a child the same name as someone else, especially someone from the same family
    The baby was called after her grandmother.
    She was called Sally after her great aunt.

 

2. CALL AROUND
  1. To visit someone
    Let’s call around to see your mother later.
  2. To call multiple people in order to get information about something
    We didn’t know which hospital he was in, so we had to call around.

There are many ‘call’ phrasal verbs to describe the act of visiting someone at their home for a short time. These are: ‘call in’, ‘call in on’, ‘call on’, ‘call round’, ‘call around’ and ‘call by’. They are all very similar in meaning and are often used in native conversational English.

 

 3. CALL AT
  1. To stop at a place for a brief period of time (usually referring to a ship or train)
    This train will call at: Eastbourne, Brighton and Croydon…
    The ship will call at several ports en route to the Bahamas.

 

4. CALL AWAY
  1. To ask someone to leave somewhere or stop what they’re doing in order to go somewhere else, usually urgently.
    The doctor was called away during dinner to attend to a patient.
    She was called away from the meeting to take an urgent phone call.

 

5. CALL BACK
  1. To return a telephone call
    I’m just in the middle of something. Can I call you back later?
  2. To ask someone to return for another interview or audition for ajob
    We’d like to call you back for a second interview next week.
  3. To go and see someone again, usually just briefly
    I’ll call back later when you have more time.

It is a common mistake to confuse the word ‘recall’ with ‘call back’. The suffix ‘re-’ usually means: to do something again. However, the word ‘recall’ means: to remember or to officially order the return of an item. You cannot ‘recall someone on the phone’. Instead we say ‘call back’.

 

6. CALL BY
  1. To visit someone briefly on your way to somewhere else
    Would it be ok to call by this afternoon on our way to the theatre?
    Let’s call by Alice’s place on our way back from town.

 

7. CALL DOWN
  1. To telephone or shout to someone downstairs
    Call down to reception and ask for some more cups for the meeting.
  2. To pray for something bad to happen
    I shall call down God’s wrath upon you!
  3. To reprimand or tell off (old-fashioned)
    The teacher called me down for being late.

 

8. CALL FOR
  1. To publicly demand or ask for an action to happen
    After the fire, the residents called for better health and safety procedures.
  2. Something that is required or necessary
    The job calls for excellent communication and networking skills.
  3. To deserve a particular action
    This good news calls for champagne!
  4. To pick someone up from somewhere to then go somewhere else
    I’ll call for you at 8pm and we can go to the party together.                       


 

9. CALL FORTH (Old-fashioned, formal)
  1. To summon, bring into action or existence
    Mary called forth all her courage and jumped from the plane.
    That film always calls forth happy memories.

 

 10. CALL IN
  1. To telephone somewhere (often a television or radio station to give your opinion, or your place of work)
    Call in to tell us about your funny pets and you could win £100!
    Sally called in to work sick today.
  2. To ask someone to come and carry out a job
    We had to call in the electrician as all the lights went out.

A common phrase in British English is ‘call in sick’. This is used to inform your boss that you won’t be coming into work because you are ill or unwell. In UK slang, ‘pull a sickie’ is used when someone pretends to be ill in order to have a day off work! For example, ‘I had a heavy weekend so I pulled a sickie on Monday!’.

 

11. CALL IN ON
  1. To visit someone (usually for a short time)
    Let’s call in on your brother for a cup of tea on our way home.
    Shall we call in on Hannah to drop off those DVDs?

 

12. CALL OFF
  1. To cancel a plan or event that is happening or will happen
    The rain meant we had to call off the tennis match.
    Due to the fading light, the police called off the search.
  2. To tell an animal to stop attacking or chasing someone/something
    We had to get the owner to call off his dog.

 

13. CALL ON
  1. To formally ask a person or organisation to do something
    The UN has called on America to act swiftly.
  2. To use something that someone can offer you
    We may need to call on your excellent diplomacy skills in this meeting.
  3. To summon or use a quality in yourself
    She called on all her years of experience to face the challenges ahead.
  4. To visit someone (usually for a short time)
    We called on Maggie on our way to the local cinema.

 

14. CALL OUT
  1. To shout or speak loudly in order to get someone’s attention
    I called out her name, but she couldn’t hear me over the music.
  2. To ask someone to come and carry out a job/do something
    We had to call out the plumber when there was no water in our house.
    phrasal verbs with call
  3. To challenge or criticise someone
    She called out his actions, and he apologised.
    If I think you’ve done something wrong, I’ll to call you out (on it).

 

15. CALL ROUND
  1. To visit someone
    Let’s call round on the Smiths later as we’ve been meaning to see them for ages.
    I was thinking of calling round later, if you’re going to be home.

 

16. CALL UP
  1. To telephone someone
    I called up Tom yesterday as we hadn’t spoken in months.
  2. To be summoned for military service
    I was called up when I was just 17!
  3. To bring back memories
    That music calls up summers in the Lake District.
  4. To use magic to try and make the spirit of a dead person appear
    One Halloween we tried to call up the ghost of my step-mother!
  5. To open something on the computer, bring up (Brit. Eng)
    If you want to call up the document, we can go through it together.

 

 17. CALL UPON
  1. To formally ask a person or organisation to do something
    He was called upon to give a speech at the awards ceremony.
    The UN will call on Sweden to lead the negotiations.

 

Exercises: phrasal verbs with ‘call’

 

Task A

Choose the correct phrasal verb to complete the sentences below: 

  1. Shall we call after/call round/call out to see Harry later?
  2. This train is calling at/calling upon/calling up Sheffield so we don’t need to change in Manchester.
  3. I’ll call you round/ back/by later as I’m very busy at the moment.
  4. You’re getting married! I think this calls for/calls up/calls out a glass of champagne!
  5. I think we should call up/call off/call back the football match because it has started snowing!
  6. Journalists called out/called back/called on the Prime Minister to give a statement after the terror attacks.
  7. It was noisy in the street so when I called out/called back/called up to Mark he didn’t hear me.
  8. I called round/called at/called up Mary at the weekend to see if she wanted to play tennis.
Task B 

Match the phrasal verbs 1-8 with their correct meanings a-h:

  1. Call back
  2. Call at
  3. Call away
  4. Call upon
  5. Call out
  6. Call in
  7. Call after
  8. Call round

 

  1. To ask someone to leave somewhere or stop what they’re doing in order to go somewhere else, usually urgently
  2. To challenge or criticise someone
  3. To return a telephone call
  4. To visit someone
  5. To stop at a place for a brief period of time (usually referring to a ship or train)
  6. To formally ask a person or organisation to do something
  7. To give a child the same name as someone else, especially someone from the same family
  8. To telephone somewhere (often a television or radio station to give your opinion, or your place of work)
Task C

Fill in the gaps with an appropriate ‘call’ phrasal verb:
 (Note: in some answers there is more than one possible answer) 

  1. Your grandfather was __________ when he was only 17 years old.
  2. I didn’t realise I’d done something wrong until I was __________ on it.
  3. __________ your dog! He’s scaring me!
  4. The hot water stopped working so we had to __________ a plumber.
  5. The position __________ excellent IT skills and a good eye for detail.
  6. Let’s __________ your mother later as she’d really like to see us.
  7. I think we should __________ the two strongest candidates for a second round.
  8. She was very happy the baby was __________ their uncle.

 

Check your answers:

Task A

  1. Call round
  2. Calling at
  3. Call back
  4. Call for
  5. Calls off
  6. Called on
  7. Called out
  8. Called up
Task B

  1. c
  2. e
  3. a
  4. f
  5. b
  6. h
  7. g
  8. d
Task C

  1. Called up
  2. Called out
  3. Called off
  4. Call in/call up
  5. Calls for
  6. Call in on/call on
  7. Call back
  8. Called after
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Written by
Esther Kersley
Staff Writer
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