Let's say I have a sentence like this:

I have participated in an event where I had to present myself to a European Commissioner called Jacques Santer.

Is it correct to use "called" in this sentence or is it okay to not use it? I personally feel like it sounds better without the word "called", but don't know how correct that is.

By the way, this has to be as formal as possible.

  • If you remove called, also remove the a before European. You'll be left with a formal sentence where "European Commissioner" is Jacques' title.
    – oerkelens
    Oct 18, 2014 at 17:05
  • 1
    Using called instead of named has a Gricean implicature that for all you know, the name is false. I.e, if all you can say is called (hearsay) instead of named (official), then you may have doubts; otherwise you'd use the neutral term. Oct 18, 2014 at 17:32

2 Answers 2


Here is my edit of your sentence:

I have participated in an event where I had to present myself to a European Commissioner, Mr. Jacques Santer.

Since you want a formal sentence, it is best to give the honorific, Mr. or Dr. or Professor, as the case may be.

Using "he is called" to mean "his name is" is the polite form in many languages; it is rarely used by English speakers.

An example of "he is called", which sounds natural: Albert and Marianne named their son "Albert Paul". The boy is called "Paul" rather than "Albert".

  • 1
    And also the artist Jacopo Robusti, called Tintoretto. Oct 19, 2014 at 5:12

Perhaps another option is to switch the order of the name and title. Furthermore, changing "where" to "in which" and removing the "had to" make the sentence sound a little more formal. I agree with the answer above that adding "Mr." to the name gives the sentence formality and shows respect to the individual. After those changes, the sentence would sound like this:

I have participated in an event in which I presented myself to Mr. Jacques Santer, a European Commissioner.

  • I think "at which" might work better than "in which" in your suggested wording, but I share your view that "an event where" doesn't sound "as formal as possible," which is what the OP requested.
    – Sven Yargs
    Dec 18, 2017 at 21:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.