(answering machine): "Hey. Aron here. Leave a message."
Aron's mother: Aron, it's Mom. I was hoping to catch you.
.....Are you there? ......Hello? .......Okay. Nothing urgent. Call me, okay? Lots of love.

She said, "I was hoping to catch you".

What does "catch you" in this mean? Could you paraphrase it for me to exactly understand?

And I wonder if this is really natural.

  • 1
    It sounds very natural. We also say 'catch you later', meaning 'see you later'. Also, the mother says 'Are you there?... Hello?' because she is hoping that he might still pick up the phone. Obviously she wants to talk to him in person. – neubau Apr 13 '14 at 18:55

This is why I love ELL! I would have never thought about how such a natural-sounding phrase could be so confusing. But considering how the word catch has well over a dozen meanings (just as a verb), I can understand how this might be hard to catch. After all, we can catch a ball, catch a bus, and we can catch a thief. We can also catch a disease, catch someone's drift, or catch someone's eye – so how can we possibly catch our son over the telephone?

Collins lists 20 meanings of the verb catch, and not one of them fits well with this context. I think the closest might be:

catch (v.) to overtake or reach in time to board ⇒ "if we hurry we should catch the next bus."

Obviously, the caller won't be boarding her son, but the concept is similar: If I'm too late to the bus station, I won't be able to catch the bus. And if I call your house too late, I won't be able to “catch” you before you depart, either.

Macmillan lists a meaning that's more of a direct hit:

catch (v.) to find someone available to talk by going to or telephoning them at the place where they are ⇒ "Call me at the office. You can usually catch me there after 8:30".

As the other answerer mentioned, it's not an unusual use of the word at all. It's commonly used this way both at home and in the office.


Here, "catch you" is short for "catch you at home", meaning the same as "find you at home". It is natural - I often say it myself.

You say or write it in a message to someone who is often away from home. It means "Even though you are not usually at home, I tried to call or visit, hoping I would be lucky enough to find you at home this time."

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