be onto somebody

Mustermisstler

Senior Member
Spanish.Spain
Hi all,
I got the two definitions below from two different dictionaries.
I want to know if "to get or be onto somebody" is only used to complain or converserly it can be used just to say that you have been in contact with someone.

Oxford advanced learner's compass
be onto somebody:
to be talking to sb, usually in order to ask or tell them sth:
They’ve been onto me for ages to get a job.

MacMillan Dictionary:
be onto somebody:
to speak to someone in order to complain or ask something
The neighbours have been onto me again about the dogs barking.

Can I say, for example "I've just been onto them"? Meaning that I have been speaking to them just a little while ago.

Thanks
 
  • i heart queso

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    I agree with Madrid829. Let's see if a British person has anything else to say.

    But in any case, I think "I've just been onto them" to mean you've just been speaking to or complaining to someone is incorrect.
     

    Biker

    Senior Member
    SPAIN - Native Spanish
    or it would be said to mean understanding a deception or tricks. "He thinks he is fooling me, but I am onto him."
    I like that definition:

    To have knowledge, be suspicious, or be aware of someone's actions, behavior, or intention.

    Tener a alguién pillado, calado, controlado,
     

    SydLexia

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I agree with Madrid829. Let's see if a British person has anything else to say.

    But in any case, I think "I've just been onto them" to mean you've just been speaking to or complaining to someone is incorrect.
    It's perfectly OK in BrE.

    Try a search for "I've just been onto them" and you will find plenty of examples of this usage.

    syd
     

    dexterciyo

    Senior Member
    Español - Canarias
    Can I say, for example "I've just been onto them"? Meaning that I have been speaking to them just a little while ago. :thumbsup:
    Sí, es correcto en el inglés británico. Justamente figura esa frase en el diccionario Oxford:

    to be onto sb (BrE colloq)1 (in contact with) I've just been onto them acabo de hablar con ellos

    Un saludo.
     
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