Why is 'called to him' and not 'called him'?

Tenacious Learner

Senior Member
Hi teachers,
Why is it 'called to him' and not 'called him' in the following paragraph?
Alex looked quickly at the door, but he could not escape now. Then the shopkeeper called to him, Hey, you! he said. Quick! Go out through the back.

Thanks in advance.

  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    We can say "called him" if he just called his name, to attract his attention: "Hey, Joe!" or, here, "Hey,you!"
    or if he summoned him by calling out: "Come over here!"

    The shopkeeper called to him means the shopkeeper talked to him, projecting his voice from a distance. He isn't telling Alex "Come here".


    Senior Member
    British English
    It's also used to emphasise/clarify different kinds of 'calling' eg

    He called to John.
    He called, "John!"
    He called John (by telephone).
    He is called John.
    He called John an idiot (when speaking to John).
    He called John an idiot (when speaking to someone else).

    So NOT usually essential but sometimes it helps to be explicit.

    Li'l Bull

    Senior Member
    Spanish (Spain)
    If your car breaks down at night on a road with very little traffic, could you say the following?:

    After half an hour, I saw a car coming so I called to the driver to stop

    Can you say "call to the car to stop"?

    Thank you in advance.
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