I'd like to know which one of the following sentences is more natural and more commonly used and if I need to use the before number in the both sentences below.

The patient with (the) phone number 12837487383 kindly asked if you could call him.

The patient at (the) phone number 12837487383 kindly asked if you could call him.

I've tried find answers on the internet but couldn't find answers as the question seems to be very specific. As for the use of the there it seems to be it's optional there. Please tell me if I'm wrong.

  • 5
    I would not use either, but more like "A patient asked you to kindly call him on 12837487383." It's unlikely that a patient is identified by the phone number, again more likely as "The patient with lukemia asked..." Jun 30, 2022 at 11:03
  • But what if the patient was identified by the phone number? Jun 30, 2022 at 11:08
  • 4
    That's a bit unlikely. Conversations among medical staff don't go "What do think of the patient on 01236745327?" "I prefer the patient on 8267352363." And with modern phones, they probably don't even know the phone numbers in their head - they are bookmarked. Jun 30, 2022 at 11:08
  • @WeatherVane - I understand UK doctors and nurses are, these days, trained not to talk about 'the hernia in bed seven'. Jun 30, 2022 at 11:46
  • @WeatherVane The OP has asked twice how to do it, not whether it's likely.
    – gotube
    Jun 30, 2022 at 15:32

3 Answers 3


With can imply that the phone number 12837487383 belongs to the patient.

At simply answers "where can I reach the patient?" - but there is no implication that the phone number belongs to the patient.


None of the ways suggested by the OP are natural-sounding. People, and even more so patients, are not usually identifiable by their phone numbers. Imagine if that were really the case, it would mean the doctor had memorised the phone number of every one of his or her patients. In which case, why not their full names?

“Mr Tobias Smith asked if you could possibly call him.”

Polite and discrete if the announcement is somewhat public.

“Mr Tobias Smith, whom you saw on Monday, asked if you could call him.”

The patient is easily identifiable. Expecting to recall people's private phone numbers is wholly unrealistic.
Whenever we call a person's telephone number the most commonly used preposition is "on".

Please call him on 12837487383
Please call him on his cell phone / mobile

@Lambie in the comments below kindly pointed out that Americans are more likely to say:

[call me] at 12837487383

  • The OP didn't ask whether they're natural, and has made clear in the comments they're uninterested. This doesn't answer the question of how to do it in English
    – gotube
    Jun 30, 2022 at 15:35
  • @gotube Comments that clarify should go in the question. Moreover, the term "natural" is in the title, I edited out "correct" which is a debatable term. The original title included Which one is more natural and correct:
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 30, 2022 at 15:38
  • Right, so the OP wants a comparison, or the most grammatically natural way to do it, even if it isn't natural to think about patients by their phone numbers.
    – gotube
    Jun 30, 2022 at 15:49
  • 1
    @gotube If something is not natural-sounding, then a learner should be made aware of it, shouldn't they? I did actually say which preposition is preferable, neither "at number" nor "with number" are idiomatic. Let the community decide if they find this answer helpful or not.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 30, 2022 at 15:51
  • Yes, except in AmE we would probably say at [phone number].
    – Lambie
    Jun 30, 2022 at 15:57

(background, 30+ years Canadian English, another 30+ in the States now)

Neither sounds natural to me (in particular, I don't think I've ever used kindly in that context).

I'd probably split it into two sentences: "A patient asked if you could call him back. He didn't leave his name, but his phone number is 1234567890"

  • Thank you for the answer. Would you please tell me if need to use "the" before "phone number" as in (The) phone number 12737827732 is ureachable"? Jul 1, 2022 at 7:35
  • 1
    @DmytroO'Hope: It depends on context. If someone was doing bulk calling, going through a list and that number was unreachable, then "Phone number 12737827732 is unreachable" works. If you were adding a sentence to the end of what's been discussed, you'd need something to make the number more definite, but perhaps just "That number is unreachable".
    – Flydog57
    Jul 1, 2022 at 13:48

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