Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Phrasal verbs: call

Type: Article

We’ve called in Tim Bowen to help with these tricky phrasal verbs.

‘Campaigners are calling for restrictions to be placed on the sale of so-called ‘legal highs’, drugs which are legal but contain chemicals that have the same effect as illegal drugs’. In this sense, call for means to demand publicly that something should happen. If a situation calls for a particular quality, that quality is needed in order to deal with it successfully, as in ‘The rapid spread of the virus calls for urgent action on the part of the international community’.

In the sense of ‘visit’, usually for a short time, call can be used with various adverbial particles: call by, call in and call round.

If you call back, you either go and see someone again or you return a telephone call, as in ‘I’ll call you back as soon as I hear something’.

If you call in a person or organization that provides a service, you ask them to come and deal with something, as in ‘The company have called in the police to investigate’. If a loan is called in, the money that is outstanding has to be repaid, as in ‘If you default with your monthly payments, the bank reserves the right to call in the loan’. To call in can also be used in the same way as phone in if you telephone a radio or television programme with a comment or question, as in ‘It’s a hot topic and people have been calling in all morning’.

If you call in sick, you phone your place of work to say that you will not be coming to work because you are ill, as in ‘At least five people have called in sick this morning’.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I look forward to reading the phrasal verb article as, apart from distinguishing between PVs and verbs + prepositions and the relevant syntactic differences, the other hurdle to cross is simply the meanings of PVs. Though the modern approach entails the teacher's attempting to get the meaning across by using English, it is far from the most effective and efficient. In the case of an L1 homogeneous class, the meaning problem can be easily solved by each student's having a bilingual phrasal verb dictionary. In fact, even if the class has different L1s, the most effective way of teaching PVs is for each student to have a bilingual PV dictionary based on his-her L1. This then obviates the teacher's having to produce ingenious ways of getting the meanings across or, when appropriate, producing Oscar-winning performances in trying to get obscure meanings across. Quite a lot of fun (I know I have done it) but terribly time-consuming and far from efficient.

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