I have seen both "call on" and "call at" used in English. Sometimes people just shorten it to "call"

  • She called me on my cell phone.
  • You should call him at '789-263-552'.

I've also stumbled upon phrases like:

  • You can call me up (at my home) in the evening.

So what is the exactly right usage?

One of my friends in America says that they use only "at" and phone number but never "on". So "on" must be British English I guess, but then should there be a number after "on" too? If so then "She called me on my cell phone." is incorrect and should be "She called my cell phone".

Where does the strange "call up (at)" come from?


At X is used if X is a place or point. If there is a list of something, especially if it's sequenced in numerical or alphabetical order, a single item of that list is considered a "point". So phone numbers would take at as the phone company has a big list of numbers to give out and yours exists on that list.

Call on X is a phrasal verb meaning to use X as a resource or ask X for help.

Call up X would emphasize the standard meaning of call without phrasal modification.

Call X on Y means to place a call to X using Y; Y would be a type of communications equipment or software, never a phone number. You could say Call X on Y at Z where Z is the phone number.

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  • Then we can understand the phrase "You can call me up (at my home) in the evening" as follows: Call X up at Y where X is 'who' and Y is 'where' (phone number)? – SovereignSun Dec 5 '16 at 14:08
  • You're understanding it correctly. – LawrenceC Dec 5 '16 at 14:09
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    In British English "call me on [phone number]" is probably much more common than "call me at [phone number]". – user42526 Dec 5 '16 at 14:10
  • I've never heard "Call me on {phone number}" ever in the 26 years I've lived near Chicago nor the 12 years I've lived in the Nashville area, or in any advertisements. Can't speak for other regions, of course. If I'm interpreting the Google Ngram for 'call me on' versus 'call me at' correctly it seems to suggest 'call me at' is more common. – LawrenceC Dec 5 '16 at 14:24
  • 1
    @SovereignSun This question would seem to suggest so. – user42526 Dec 5 '16 at 14:35

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