call for the ambulance

< Previous | Next >


Senior Member
polszczyzna warszawska
The driver, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was slumped behind the steering wheel. The proprietor of the newsstand was yelling at the driver and shaking a magazine at him. The police called for the ambulance. They charged the driver with failure to yield to a police officer and driving under the influence.

Context: a story for English students about a chase after a speeding driver by the police.

I would like to know what the reason for using the in called for the ambulance is.
I think that it wasn't a specified ambulance that they called, so I would have used called an ambulance. Why the? Would an be wrong?

  • Ann O'Rack

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I wouldn't worry too much about it. While you're right that there isn't necessarily only one ambulance, the definite or indefinite article in this instance is a matter of choice. It's another little bit of idiom, possibly because it fits with "call the police" and "call the fire brigade", and to finish off the set it's "call the ambulance" because there isn't a nice, neat single word for the people who drive medical vans to help sick and injured people in an emergency.
    < Previous | Next >