1

Would you tell me which one is correct: "you called the wrong person" or "you are calling the wrong person" when you get connected with someone mistakenly? For example:

Person A: Is this Dave?

Person B: No, you called/you are calling the wrong person.

I've heard both in the context, but which one is correct and natural?

5
  • 1
    It's usually referred to as 'the wrong number' rather than 'person'. Feb 18, 2022 at 17:48
  • Thanks for comment! Would you tell which tense I use there?/ Feb 18, 2022 at 18:12
  • 1
    @DmytroO'Hope - The more common phrase in my experience is "You have the wrong number."
    – stangdon
    Feb 18, 2022 at 18:14
  • Ngrams support for the above: books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – stangdon
    Feb 18, 2022 at 18:16
  • Of course, before the days of mobile phones you would telephone a house not necessarily knowing which resident would answer. Feb 19, 2022 at 9:06

1 Answer 1

2

All three of these are correct:

Person A: Is this Dave?

Person B: No, you are calling the wrong person.
Person A: Is this Dave?

Person B: No, you called the wrong person.
Person A: Is this Dave?

Person B: No, you have the wrong number.

The first one is very awkward and would never really be used. Mainly because the action of "calling" tends to refer to the dialing and hitting the call button rather than to the talking. Since these actions are done in the past "called" makes more sense, therefore, the second version is better, and sounds reasonable. Although, the last one is used almost 99% of the time in this situation, or at least in AmE.

Bonus: The reason the first two are not used is because it sounds less polite. "You called the wrong person." is what I would expect to here in a movie where a son (who has a poor relationship with his father) calls his father asking for help in which case the father would respond "you called the wrong person" as a rude way of saying "I am not going to help you."

Or maybe if a thief calls the police he is hiding from (thinking it is his get away driver) and tells his location. "you called the wrong person" would be a response the policeman would use (especially and mostly in theatrical presentations) to humorously let the thief know that he has called the wrong person.

Example of this usage would usually come with a bit of sarcasm like: "you have called the wrong person, buddy." or "you have called the wrong guy, bucko."

2
  • I would add that in AmE, “you have called the wrong number” (and its contracted form) would sound perfectly idiomatic as well. It seems to me that this is preferable over the second example mainly because it is more appropriate to use “have called” than “called,” as the latter suggests an action that may have already ended, which obviously doesn’t make sense in this context. “Have called” would refer to the ongoing situation resulting from the wrong call (in the past). Feb 19, 2022 at 11:11
  • @AnnabethYeung That's fair, but I would still say "you have the wrong number" is used at least 10-1 over "you have called the wrong number."
    – Eli Harold
    Feb 21, 2022 at 12:57

You must log in to answer this question.

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