attend: look after, take charge of, etc


Senior Member
Hello everyone,

The following are all constructed by myself.
The transitive or intransitive usages of "attend" have always been difficulties for me.
(My thoughts are shown in the brackets)

1. To look after a baby, say I'll be away for 20 minutes.
Please help ____ the baby.
A. attend (OK)
B. attend on (NO)
C. attend to (OK)
They are said to a neighbor of mine. (And my neighbor is not a doctor.)
Though I think "look after" will do, but what if "attend" is used like the above?

2. My mom has gone to see a doctor and is in recovery at home. I'll be away for a few days.
Please help _____ my mom.
A. attend (OK)
B. attend on (OK)
C. attend to (OK)
They are said to a friend of mine. It's usual for a friend to do so in China in her free time, if asked.
(And my friend is not a doctor.)

3. A man was bitten by a snake, and he came to a clinic.
"Please help ____ the patient."
A. attend
B. attend on
C. attend to
They are said to a doctor first and after s/he has dealt with the patient's wound, then to a nurse.
First to a doctor: attend NO, attend on NO. attend to OK
Later to a nurse: attend OK, attend on Maybe OK, attend to OK

4. Mr. Smith is a private doctor and he sometimes works as an attendant to some high rank officials.
Mr. Smith, a famous doctor, usually _____ governor Wang.
A. attends (OK)
B. attends on (OK)
C. attends to (NO)

It is lengthy :)

Thank you!
Last edited:
  • Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    1. Attend in any form is unlikely in this example. C is possible in a medical setting but not natural everyday language.

    2. Same as above

    3. As it is a medical setting, C is possible.

    attend - Usually means 'be at' e.g. Everyone must attend the meeting tonight.
    attend to – usually means 'deal with'. Please attend to the next customer/patient (though rather formal; 'see to' is more likely)
    attend on - usually means 'go to meet' (often because this person has something important to say to you or wants you to do something – and is your superior) e.g. I was invited to attend on His Excellency the Ambassador on the 5th of March.


    Senior Member
    UK English
    I would not use attend in your sentences, with the possible exception of no. 4.
    If I did, I would say attend to.

    This may not be true in AE. For example, the doctor treating/responsible for/ a patient is called the attending doctor/physician in Canada and the USA.


    Senior Member
    Many thanks for your time.

    1a. Is "attend" usually used for those senior people but not those younger ones?
    1b. "My girl friend is attending my sick mom these days". Is this sentence OK?
    2. The doctor is attending his patients. Is this sentence OK? Is the doctor treating his patients or just staying with them?
    3. Mr. Smith, a famous doctor, attended governor Wang as his personal physician. Is this sentence OK?

    Many thanks again.


    Senior Member
    UK English
    Attend in the sense of take care of sounds archaic or old-fashioned to me.
    I would not use it in the sense of looking after someone.

    In sentence 3 I would use served. But the meaning you seem to want is look after or treat. I would not use attend in BE.

    Attend is more often used in the sense of being present at, e.g. They attended the official banquet at Buckingham Palace, He attended several functions (e.g. official meetings) a week. Please attend the clinic at 9.30 am (used for appointments). Attend to can also mean pay attention to.


    Senior Member
    English - US
    "Help" isn't right in any of those sentences since it seems the person will be doing it alone rather than helping someone else to do it.


    Senior Member
    Not really. Sometimes help may go to those dictionary editors. It seems. :)


    1. to be present at: to attend school.
    2. to go with as a concomitant or result; accompany: Fever may attend a cold.
    3. to take care of; minister to: a nurse attending a patient.
    4. to wait upon; accompany or serve: The retainers attended their lord.
    5. to look after; guard: to attend one's health.
    6. to listen to; give heed to: to attend a warning.
    7. Archaic. to wait for; expect.
    8. to take care or charge: to attend to a sick person.
    9. to apply oneself: to attend to one's work.
    10. to pay attention; listen or watch alertly: to attend to a speaker.
    11. to be present.
    12. to be present and ready to serve; wait: to attend upon the queen.
    13. to follow; be consequent (usu. fol. by on or upon).
    14. Obs. to wait.
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