We can't get a hold of him until tomorrow

We can’t get “a hold” or "ahold "of him until tomorrow.

I know they sound the same. But I saw people write “get ahold” many times.
I’m not sure which one is correct.

Thank you!!!

They’re both interchangeable.


The expression is ‘get hold of.’ You will probably have to search in your dictionary under ‘hold,’ if it’s listed at all.

But in the vernacular it’s ‘get a hold of’ or ‘get ahold of.’ In this context, it means to reach someone by telephone. The difference between ‘get a hold of’ and ‘get ahold of’ is little more than a spelling preference. If I’m not mistaken, I believe the British tend to use ‘get a hold of’ while Americans prefer ‘get ahold of.’ I’m not sure about Australia. Or Canada. Or anywhere else that English is spoken. Everywhere you look, it seems, variations seem to only be listed between American and British English.

As an American, the form I am most comfortable with is ‘to get ahold of.’ So much so that I didn’t even realize, until I looked in my Oxford American English Dictionary today, that ‘ahold’ is not listed. But just because it’s not listed in the dictionary doesn’t mean that it’s not a word, as some people try to claim. No. It just means that it’s not in the dictionary.

I can’t get ahold of him. I can’t reach him on the phone. I can’t get him on the phone. I can’t get him to answer the phone. (These all essentially mean the same thing.)

The full context is:

  • What’s going on with the whistle-blower?
  • He’s on vacation in Japan. We can’t get ahold of him until tomorrow.
    —The Good Fight Season 3, Episode 5

We can’t get ahold of him until tomorrow. We can’t reach him until tomorrow. We can’t get in contact with him until tomorrow. We can’t get him on the phone until tomorrow.

(Apparently he doesn’t have a mobile phone or phone service or his phone is turned off or he’s at a location where he can’t be reached or he has informed them that he cannot be contacted today or something, but somehow they know that he will be in a position where he can be contacted tomorrow.)


Short answer. Either is fine.

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Is it okay to use the verb “contact” him or “connect” with him to mean the same thing (get ahold of him)?

Aussies are lazy, so we have a third to choose from: I can’t get hold of him for you. :)~

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“I can’t contact him” is okay.
“I can’t connect with him” is wrong in this context.

‘I can’t connect with him’ = ‘I can’t connect with him emotionally.’
‘We couldn’t connect over Skype/Google Hangouts’ = eg. ‘We couldn’t have our Skype session because of technical problems.’

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