In one of my classes recently a student wanted to know what was wrong with ' I will call back to you'? I know it sounds natural to say " I will call you back" but is there something wrong with the students construction? ( Especially when we do split Phrasal verbs like call up with a subject- I will call John up, I will call up John)
"I will call back to you" is not natural but it is grammatical. The phrasal verb "call back" can be used in different ways.
1. I looked the word up (in the dictionary)
2. I looked up the word.
3. I looked up the chimney.
4. I looked the chimney up.
5. I'll give you a book.
6. I'll give a book to you.
I think we can say that #4 is not grammatical. It's not that it is unnatural; it's not possible with the 'grammar' of the verb + preposition.
Now, if we are talking about telephoning,
7. I'll call you back.
8. I'll call back to you.
#8 is not unnatural, it's ungrammatical. But, if we have two people arranging to shout (call) a message to each other across the steet,
9. I'll call you back.
10. I'll call back to you.
#10 is fine, but #9, I think, is not just unnatural, but ungrammatical.
Last edited by 5jj; 22-Jul-2012 at 15:07. Reason: typo
Your example of two people shouting across the street makes perfect sense.