I tried to contact my mom, but her phone was unreachable. So what sounds more natural in "informal settings"? I mean what's more likely to be used in informal settings?

I couldn't get ahold of Mom. (Or "get hold of)

I couldn't get in touch with Mom.

What sounds better in informal contexts? Is the second one more likely to be used in formal contexts as in Office?

Thank you:)

  • "get ahold of" is US regional dialect; hayseed talk. Did you mean 'get hold of'? Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 23:51
  • Yes @MichealHarvey. Is "get hold of" used in informal contexts? Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 8:44
  • "Get hold of" can be used in informal contexts. Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 9:03
  • And @MichealHarvey is it always used to mean "I tried to call her, but the call didn't connect" or "I tried to call her, but she did not answer even though the call connected"? (I mean if the call connects, there is that ringing sound and if doesn't connect then the line is bank with no sound at all.) Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 15:51

1 Answer 1


I couldn't get ahold of X.

This construction is commonly used in informal speech in the US. I have heard it used by well-educated people (native speakers) of both rural and urban background, in both the Mid-west (Michigan and Ohio) and the Northeast, contrary to the comment by Michael Harvey.

This phrase means "I tried to make contact with X, but was unable to do so. It does not specify whether the method was telephone, text, email, postal mail, or personal visit, nor in what way the attempt failed. It merely says that the attempt was made did not succeed. Often additional statements will clarify how and when the attempt was made and how it failed.

I have also heard "get hold of" with exactly the same meaning. "Get in touch with" also carries exactly the same meaning, and I don't think either one is particularly preferred to the other -- both are informal. The choice is a matter of personal style. Any native speak will understand any of these choices and attach the same meaning to them.

  • Is the use "get ahold of" very common? Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 18:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .