English Lesson: 5 Phrasal Verbs Using “Call”

If you want to sound more natural with your English speaking, it’s a good idea to incorporate the use of phrasal verbs— just be sure you don’t carried away and try to use them in every, single sentence.

Phrasal verb overload sounds very un-natural!

For those who don’t know, a phrasal verb is when you take a verb and add a preposition. For example, hang + out = hang out, which means to spend time together.

In this post, let’s cover 5 phrasal verbs that use “call” as the base verb.

  1. call on
  2. call off
  3. call up
  4. call in
  5. call out

1) Call On = to choose, to pick

Example: When I was teaching, I called on different students to answer the questions.

Note: this will be the least common one to use because it requires the speaker to be in a position of authority (i.e. a teacher speaking to students, a manager in a meeting speaking to employees, etc.)

2) Call Off = to cancel, to stop, to postpone

Example: We had to call off the meeting because the boss was sick.

Note: common word associations with “call off” are meetings, parties, plans, dates, and appointments

3) Call Up = to call, to phone

Example: I called up my friends to see what they were doing.

Note: this phrasal verb has no substantial difference in meaning, however, it can be used to sound more conversational and natural

4) Call In = to phone in a place, location, person (implied)

Example: I didn’t go in to work today. I had to call in sick.

Note: be aware of the context. Most of the time you won’t see “call in” by itself, but in the context of “to call in sick”

5) Call Out = to point out, to identify

Example: Jon called out Chase for trying to sneak out of the party.

In that example, Chase wanted to leave the party without anyone knowing. However, Jon didn’t let that happen. He drew attention to Chase, and everyone saw him.

Example: Valerie called out Richelle for not following her diet.

In this example, maybe Richelle made a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight. Valerie is her friend and wants to support her. But when Valerie comes over to hang out, she notices Richelle is eating a big bowl of ice cream. Valerie is pointing out that Richelle is not following her resolution.


If you’re interested in learning more conversational English like this, connect with Jon to sign up for private English coaching. We’ll work on making you sound like a native speaker.

Published by Jon Dao

Formerly, the Conversation Coach

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