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Is either "in a call" or "on a call" incorrect usage when referring to someone attending a phone (possibly conference) call? If not, what's appropriate usage for both?

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What's the context ? – Pierre Mar 16 '11 at 11:43
Also Related – HaL Mar 16 '11 at 14:10
Of note, I also hear "has a call." – MrHen Mar 16 '11 at 19:28
@Pierre, referring to phone (possibly, conference) calls. Edited it in. – ak86 Mar 17 '11 at 9:37
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The two are used interchangeably as to be in or on a call is a fairly new expression, with some very slight contextual differences.

"In" is more often used to describe whether someone has successfully connected (especially in conference calling): "Are you in yet?". However, it is sometimes used more generally "I'm sorry, he is in a call" because it sounds similar to "in a meeting". You wouldn't ask someone having technical problems "are you on yet?" though. (This is a bit confusing, because we talk about logging on, but once someone has logged on, they are usually described as "in".)

"On" is more often used to describe someone who is in the process of taking part in a call more generally. "Will you be on that call this afternoon?". But you could equally say "in" here.

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Good explanation, thanks. – ak86 Mar 17 '11 at 9:41
Reminds me of this one - do you "come in from the rain"? or "come out of the rain"? – scunliffe Mar 17 '11 at 15:15

The phrase "on a call" can also mean making a visit, usually an official one.

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Not to be confused with "on call" which is something completely different. – MrHen Mar 16 '11 at 19:27

If you are in a call then when you stop out of the call? Clearly you are on the phone and not in the phone. Off the phone makes sense but out of the phone makes no sense. I vote for on a call and in a meeting because off the call and out of the meeting make more sense.

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This answer made no sense. – Mari-Lou A Oct 2 '15 at 7:25

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