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Can the phrase "at one's beck and call" only be used after "to be?" For example, I can definitely say "her daughter was at her beck and call," but I am unsure if I can use it adverbially i.e. "her daughter answered at her beck and call."

Thanks!

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    Wouldn't it have to be "her daughter answered to her beck and call"? Feb 19, 2019 at 0:00
  • "If something goes wrong in the testing you should tell Beck and call me."
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 19, 2019 at 12:52

2 Answers 2

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The idiom is at someone's beck and call:

[Merriam-Webster]

: always ready to do whatever someone asks
// He expects his employees to be at his beck and call day and night.
// She is at the beck and call of the committee.

Using a different verb with the phrase results in it sounding slightly strange because that's not how the idiom is normally used.

I would suggest not altering the idiom in your second sentence, since the original version means the same thing—and is how it's naturally used.

Note that there is another idiom that also has the same meaning: her daughter satisfied her every whim.

[Merriam-Webster]

: to make someone happy by doing everything that he or she wants
// Her husband tries to satisfy her every whim.


If you really want to fit answered into the sentence, I wouldn't use a set phrase and alter it, but use a more organic structure. (Also note that answered at doesn't sound natural—which is another reason why it doesn't really work when using it with the normal phrase.)

Something like:

Her daughter answered her every need.

Or, with responded:

Her daughter responded to her every need.

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The phrase at someone's beck and call refers to a state one is in. Compare "at the ready" and "at their wit's end". It can thus be predicated of a subject:

He was at her beck and call.

She was at their beck and call.

Or it can be used as a kind of adverbial adjunct:

The servants scampered at his beck and call.

The underlying noun phrase is beck and call and depending on the verb phrase, you may need a different preposition:

A femme fatale seduces men to her beck and call.

They are subject to her beck and call.

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