In each sentence a bundle of 'call' and 'on' has different meaning. What does 'on' followed after 'call' mean in each sentence? Why does 'to' or 'for' not use instead of 'on'?

  1. The Commissioner-General plans to call up on the Secretary-General of OIC as soon as arrangements can be made.

  2. We call on the Security Council to have them arrested and disarmed.

  3. The Chairman: I call on the observer of Switzerland.

  4. Eritrea renews this call on this occasion.

  • I think the first one is a typo, it should have been "call upon". As the other answers have pointed out, "call up on" is incorrect. Mar 27, 2019 at 17:51

1 Answer 1


call on (phrasal verb):

  1. officially ask someone to do something
  2. ask a student a question
  3. decide to use something
  4. produce a quality
  5. ask someone to prove statement
  6. visit someone for short time

Clearly this is a multi-purpose expression, as each of your examples has a slightly different meaning:

  1. Probably "visit someone for a short time", or possibly "ask someone to do something". Note it should be either "call up" or "call on", but not "call up on". That's unnecessarily mixing the expressions.

  2. A variation on "ask someone to prove statement", meaning "ask someone to take a certain action"

  3. "Officially ask someone to do something", in this case, "to give a speech"

  4. This one is difficult to understand without more context, but my best guess is that it's a finance term used in the stock market:

    Call options are an agreement that give the option buyer the right, but not the obligation, to buy a stock, bond, commodity or other instrument at a specified price within a specific time period.

    This example is not actually the phrasal verb, but rather simply "call" as a noun, followed by the adverb phrase "on this occasion". The company has decided to "renew" the "call" meaning that they are extending the specified time period.

  • So if 'call on' is a phrasal verb then verb particle 'on' with 'call' has nothing to do with meanings of preposion 'on'? I say it because it is very difficult to remember all phrasal verb meanings without association with the same preposition.
    – Vitaly
    Mar 27, 2019 at 18:43
  • @Vitaly Consider "on" also means "activate" as in turn on vs. turn off. This is only marginally related to using "on" as a preposition of location. Most English prepositions serve many different roles depending on the context. To "call on" someone (meaning "visit') is related to the idea of showing up on their doorstep. Meanwhile "call on" a student (meaning "ask them a question") is akin to the idea of picking them by tapping them on the shoulder
    – Andrew
    Mar 27, 2019 at 19:17
  • @Vitaly But all of these are just logical conjecture, and I wouldn't worry about it too much. Most of the time you can get the intended meaning from the context -- as long as you are familiar with the rest of the vocabulary, of course. For example. you wouldn't know about a "call option" unless you read stuff related to the stock market.
    – Andrew
    Mar 27, 2019 at 19:18
  • Andrew, your logical conjectures are something! It is very usefull for certain groups non native speakers.
    – Vitaly
    Mar 27, 2019 at 20:06

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