“On a Call” or “In a Call” – Which Is Correct?

When participating in a conversation over the phone, do you say you’re “On a Call” or “In a Call”?

We want to take a close look at “On a Call” and “In a Call”, to find out which is correct and what’s the appropriate way to use them.

“On a Call” or “In a Call” – Which Is Correct?

As a matter of fact, both “On a Call” and “In a Call” are grammatically correct expressions and serve the purpose of helping us communicate with others. They mean someone is on a phone call, probably busy talking to someone.

on a call or in a call

Both expressions seem to be fairly interchangeable, and carry the same meaning. Let’s take some time to look into each separately.

Let’s look at some examples to compare them.

  • Looks like Smith is on a call, can he get back to you later?
  • Looks like Smith is in a call, can he get back to you later?
  • We were on a call with the New York and Los Angeles offices.
  • Yesterday, in a call with the team, we were able to brainstorm some ideas.

The examples show both “On a Call” and “In a Call” being used. In every case, the message is conveyed properly and we understand the meaning of the sentence.

It indicates that “On a Call” and “In a Call” are interchangeable.

On a Call

You should use “On a Call” to indicate you’re on the phone, talking to someone. Often, the form “On a Call” is used related to an active participation on the call, meaning you’re not only listening. Also, we must keep in mind that “On a Call” isn’t the same as “On Call”.

Let’s see some examples of “On a Call” in a sentence:

  1. Henry is currently on a call. Can I take a message?
  2. Vanessa is on a business call with her partner.
  3. Brianna will text you back later, she’s busy on a call.
  4. Darren was on a call with his mother, when he heard the news.
  5. Kyle went somewhere quiet since he’s on a call.
  6. Oliver is on call, he might be called to the hospital any minute.

Sentences 1 to 5 show examples of the expression “On a Call” in a sentence. They’re very straightforward and clear.

Sentence 6 shows an example of “on call”, which has a completely different meaning. Someone “on call” is on standby, usually for work. They don’t need to stay at the workplace, but must be available, because they could be called to come at any minute.

In a Call

“In a Call” is as correct as “On a Call”. It might carry a slightly different tone, as “In a Call” often indicates a more passive approach to the communication that’s taking place. But also, “In a Call” can indicate a person is in a conference call, with many participants.

Take a look at the examples below, that show “In a Call” in a sentence:

  1. I’m sorry, but she is currently in a call.
  2. We can’t hear you, are you in the call yet?
  3. He is in a call with Janet and her team.
  4. Paula is in a call with her son’s school.
  5. Fernando is supposed to be in a business call now.

As you probably noticed by now, in most of those sentences you could interchange “On a Call” and “In a Call” and still have the same meaning.

Which Is Used the Most?

What do you think people say more often, “On a Call” or “In a Call”? In your daily interactions, which expression pops up more frequently? Take a look at the graph from Google Ngram Viewer to find out which is more common.

on a call or in a call usage

“In a Call” appears with much more frequency than “On a Call”, which could be surprising to many.

But it’s also interesting to notice that the usage for both expressions has increased greatly since 1995, when the Internet allowed for connections to be made much more easily than before.

Final Thoughts

It doesn’t matter if you prefer “On a Call” or “In a Call”. Both expressions are grammatically correct. They also carry the same basic meaning, and therefore are considered interchangeable. If you’re on the phone with one or multiple people, you can use “On a Call” or “In a Call”.