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What is the difference between the following when referring to telephone calls?

Please call me on this number. You can reach me on this number.

Please call me at this number. You can reach me at 0088000900.

Please call me through this number. You can reach us through this number.

Are they interchangeable? Which one would sound more natural and accurate?

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All combinations are acceptable to me except call me through this number. –  FumbleFingers Jan 23 '12 at 23:49
    
How about this? mhsoac.ca.gov/meetings/meetings.aspx –  user17857 Jan 24 '12 at 1:12
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In that link the usage is "You will not be able to speak to the Commissioners through this number". That's fine to my ear - but if you ask me why, I'm not certain. I don't like "You can speak to me through this number" much, though it's better than call me through (I think I cut more slack in "third person" references). I'm not used to "reach [anyone, especially me] through" an actual phone number. I'm more used to "We can be reached through the telephone". It's a medium, not an "access code". –  FumbleFingers Jan 24 '12 at 1:34
    
I would use on/at/through for e-mail addresses exactly as I would use them for phone numbers (as answered below). –  Paul Richter Jan 24 '12 at 2:00
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6 Answers

up vote 21 down vote accepted
  • Please call me on this number. You can reach me on this number.

Acceptable everywhere, principally used in UK/Australia/New Zealand. Sounds strange to North American ears, but understood.

  • Please call me at this number. You can reach me at 0088000900.

Acceptable everywhere, principally used in US/Canada. Might sound strange to English speakers outside North America, but widely understood.

  • Please call me through this number. You can reach us through this number.

Usually used when the caller will need to speak to an intermediary before being connected to the desired party (such as when a receptionist answers all incoming calls). Not generally used when the number connects directly to the desired party (which is "DID" Direct Inward Dial in North America, and "DDI" Direct Dial-In elsewhere).

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Finally someone I can agree with! What you're saying is that through is normally used when the number will connect you to an intermediary - who will then "pass you through" to the person you're trying to reach. –  FumbleFingers Jan 24 '12 at 4:01
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While Americans wouldn't say "call me on this number," they do say "call me on this line," as in Call me on this line instead of the main office or Call me on my landline; I don't get cell service in my apartment. –  choster Jan 24 '12 at 15:50
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To my American ear, "at" sounds the most natural, "through" is less common, and "on" is one I would never use.

The only way I would use "through this number" is if I had more than one number, I might say "You can reach me through 547-2146" to indicate that I'm less likely to be available at the other numbers. But in general I'd use "through" when referring to a person or place, not number:

You can reach me through my sister.

You can reach me through the office.

which would mean I might not be with my sister / at the office, but if you call them they will connect you to me.

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I'll upvote this because you've set out what I'd consider far more acceptable "ways of reaching me through [something]". But I personally don't agree any of the stuff about using "through" when there are multiple numbers in play. I would definitely use "on" there. –  FumbleFingers Jan 24 '12 at 1:44
    
"On" is definitely the right word for an internal line, not a number: "It's Jeff on line 3." But "on 547-2146" just sounds strange to me. –  Paul Richter Jan 24 '12 at 1:50
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I agree on "at" and "on". To me, "through" is only appropriate in the "forwarding-address" sense -- "through the main office number", but not because I have multiple numbers. –  Monica Cellio Jan 24 '12 at 2:02
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+1. But I'd use "on" in something like "You can reach me on my cell-phone at (867) 555-5309." –  ruakh Jan 24 '12 at 3:46
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@Mohammad: It may be that "through [telephone number]" is more common in the US. I'm British, and in general it's a bit "odd" to me. I myself would always use "on" for phone numbers. To me, "through" works with "my sister", "the office" - because they're intermediaries, but I can't see a simple number as an intermediary. –  FumbleFingers Jan 24 '12 at 3:54
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I believe that all three instances are interchangeable. Coming from a background of American and Australian English none of them stand out as any clearer or more natural than another. I think that it's simply a matter of personal preference based on where you are from; a practice of very simple colloquialisms. For example if someone said to me "Hit me up on this number." I would understand just the same.

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I'm pretty sure I've heard on used, but rarely, and, I am certain, by folks whose general use of the English language pays little heed to the notion of what is or isn't proper. Use of at however comprises 99 plus percent of what I've seen or heard [in use], or used myself, throughout all parts of the United States, and also comes in variations such as "reach me at" or "I'll be at". Never have I known anyone to use through in this way though. And no surprise there, as the word implies an intermediary and seems thus insensible.

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If you think people who use "on" don't know/care what is "proper" I can only assume there's a huge US/UK divide here. I doubt the circumstance will arise, but in my letter to the Queen's private secretary to confirm my availability to be knighted at Her Majesty's convenience, I would have no qualms in writing "Please feel free to call me on 012-3455589 any time, day or night, and I shall make my way directly to the palace". I might never get that knighthood, I know - but I wouldn't expect to be passed over for being illiterate! –  FumbleFingers Jan 24 '12 at 2:17
    
No indication of a point here. Is this just for sake of levity? I now hear form you so often it's like having dropped into the library only to discover it's your domicile. It is a fact, not an opinion, that there exists a certain percentage of the population (U.S, UK, wherever) which pays little heed to the notion of what is or isn't proper English. Let's start with that. Within that subset there are those who tell others to give them a call. Within that subset there are those who use the phrasing at issue ...a small fraction of whom I've overheard. Thus the phrase "I am certain". No if. –  Tom Raywood Jan 24 '12 at 15:25
    
Tom, your first sentence baldly states that people who use the form "call me on [number]" are either ignorant or heedless of what you assume to be "proper" use of language. I disagree because I use this form, and I don't accept your classification as applying to me. As I said, it might be a US/UK difference, but your sweeping generalisation is certainly unjustified from my point of view, whatever the reason. –  FumbleFingers Jan 24 '12 at 18:02
    
I am here to attest under oath and against all pain of contradiction that neither FumbleFingers nor any visiting users of the king's good English were among the fraction of the subset of the subset of the subset of persons I expressly referenced or in any way alluded to in, again, conveying my apparently shocking experience. Let it also enter the record that at no point did I go out of my way to ensure of any opportunity to bear witness to the things I herein report. If it please the court I would to God that I could wash my ears of every misguided occasion whereupon the aggrieved parties ... –  Tom Raywood Jan 24 '12 at 18:27
    
Okay, let it be further noted in the annals that we both speak English, and will each tolerate the other's linguistic proclivities hereinafter, being mindful of the potential for disharmony which may be occasioned by the passing of aspersions founded on cidatlantic parochialism! :) –  FumbleFingers Jan 24 '12 at 18:51
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At or On are both fairly common ( in the UK at least ). "You can call me at 0800999999" is interchangeable with "You can call me on 0800999999". The "at" may have a slight suggestion that it could be a work number, and I may not be there.

Through is only really used combined with "reach me" - so "you can reach me through 0800999999". Not as common in the UK, and it implied that someone else will aswer, but can pass on a message. It would not imply that you could necessarily speak to the person - hence the "reach me" rather than "call me".

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"Call me at this number" is correct. "On this number" sounds like slang.

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Could you provide support for your answer? –  American Luke Sep 22 '13 at 0:56
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protected by RegDwigнt Nov 1 '13 at 5:54

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