call = push the number + get through + talk ?

wanabee

Senior Member
Japanese
Dear all,

I called him but the line was busy.

I made the sentence.
I think that "call" in telephone context means "push the number" plus "get through to the other person" plus "talk". According to this, the sentence above seems wrong.

I would appreciate any comments.
 
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    No! In this case "call" in telephone context means only "push the number" - you then find out if the line is busy but you have already "made the call". It does not mean you got through to the person you were calling.
     

    wanabee

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    No! In this case "call" in telephone context means only "push the number" - you then find out if the line is busy but you have already "made the call". It does not mean you got through to the person you were calling.
    Thank you very much, JulianStuart!
    So I understand that the original sentence makes sense on its own. And we can't tell, just by looking at the expression "I called him", whether I succeeded in talking to him or not.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    And we don't say "push the number"; we say "dial the number", even though we are pressing buttons (the phrase comes from the time when numbers were called by turning a dial).
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I disagree. I don't know if it is just me or the Atlantic Ocean that creates the difference. If I did not get through it would have to be I tried to call him but the line was busy. If I said that I called him then I must have spoken to him.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    If you were being strictly truthful on oath in a court of law, then Andygc is right.

    But in ordinary speech I'd vote with Julian Stuart. Otherwise you couldn't say things like "I was in the middle of calling him when the doorbell rang" or "I've called him a dozen times this morning but his secretary always tells me he's busy" or (alas) "Whenever I call the Inland Revenue they keep me waiting for 20 minutes".
     
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