Suppose we want to talk to a spirit of a deceased person and so, using magic, we want to make the spirit appear.

Surely, first of all, we should "call" for their presence in the place where we are, so the word "call" is involved.

However, since the deceased person was a native English speaker, and since they only respond to other mother tongues, we need an English flavour in our speech; and, as is well, known, for this purpose there is no better way that correctly using phrasal verbs and/or prepositions.

Nevertheless, there are so many phrasal verbs where "call" is involved, and the following is a short list of the ones that, at first look, seem excellent candidates in order to make the aforementioned "call":

  • call back, "To communicate the need for (someone) to return from one situation or location to a previous one."

  • call down, "To invoke, as from heaven."

  • call in, "To summon for assistance or consultation."

So, which one is proper English:

  • Spirit, we are going to call you back!

  • Spirit, we are going to call you down!

  • Spirit, we are going to call you in!

If none of the above is correct, what is the right particle in this case?

  • 1
    I think, the present progressive tense; "Spirit, we're calling you back!" would sound more (super)natural. But also Janus Bahs Jacquet's suggestion, "Spirit, we call..." is also an improvement.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 22 '13 at 12:55

‘Call you back’ sounds like you are trying to bring the person back to life. ‘Call you down’ sounds like the spirit is on the floor above you. ‘Call you in’ sounds like the spirit is the next in a line of people being called in (as for an audition or a doctor’s appointment).

I also wouldn’t use “we are going to call”, since I presume this is actually part of calling upon the spirit, rather than just saying, “Hey spirit, just to let you know: in about five minutes, we’re going to start trying to make you appear”.

Most (super)natural to me would be simply:

Spirit, we call upon you!
Spirit, we call upon you (to return/appear/deign us with your presence/do the macarena/…)!

Alternatively, the words invoke and summon are often used:

Spirit, we invoke you!
Spirit, we summon you!


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