I desperately tried to reach him but he wasn't answering.

I desperately tried to get hold of him but he wasn't answering.

What would be the most idiomatic way for native speakers to say this sentence when you try to get through to someone on the phone? Thanks a lot.

  • Are you meaning that they were engaged, they did not answer, or that you kept calling different numbers trying to find them but could not get through on any answer and instead were redirected to other people?
    – Stuart F
    Aug 21, 2022 at 11:23
  • That "I" tried to call him (several times), but "he" wasn't answering his phone. Aug 21, 2022 at 12:20
  • 1
    to get hold of someone or to reach someone are both idiomatic.
    – Lambie
    Apr 19, 2023 at 22:32

2 Answers 2


These are both normal, although I've always heard it as "get a hold of him", which I can't explain.

  • Usually written as 'ahold'. Mainly US regional dialect usage. I've heard 'aholt' also. Example: "I can't get aholt of Gopher since I loaned him that $5," Floyd complained. It is alleged in some places that it is common in southern England, but I've never heard it, and I've heard a lot of English dialects. May 10, 2022 at 20:03
  • aholt is Southern or Western but usually with people with a very heavy accent.
    – Lambie
    Apr 19, 2023 at 22:33

Perhaps most common would be to use "call" aa a verb

I desperately tried to call him but he wasn't answering.

"reach" might mean an attempt to send a text message, an email, or some other form of communication.

Any of "call", "reach", "get hold of" or "contact" would be natural, grammatically valid, nd might well be said by a fluent speaker. Other verbs or phrasal verbs might well be used also.

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