Attend or attend to?

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Advanced English Grammar Course

Today’s lesson is a quick tip about a small difference that could really mix you up – do you attend English class, or attend to English class? Keep reading to find out.

It’s in these tiny little details where English learners – even more advanced ones – often make mistakes. And that’s why it’s so important to get some feedback and correction on your writing from a native English speaker.

You can get that inside our Advanced English Grammar Course. In addition to 45 lessons teaching you grammar in great detail, you also have the option to add teacher feedback – you can practice your writing and get it corrected by the Espresso English teaching team.

Now let’s find out when to say attend and when to say attend to – they’re both correct but they mean different things, so we use them in different situations.

When to use ATTEND

We use attend (without “to”) when we’re talking about going somewhere or being present somewhere:

  • I regularly attend business conferences.
  • Nine students attended the lecture.
  • They’ve been attending English class every week.

You could use go to instead of attend – “go to” is more informal, “attend” is more formal – but we do not say “attend to” when talking about being present.

  • I regularly go to business conferences.
  • Nine students went to the lecture.
  • They’ve been going to English class every week.

Attend or attend to? Espresso English

When to use ATTEND TO

Attend to means to pay attention to or handle something:

  • Doctors attended to the people who were injured in the accident.
  • We’ll attend to that problem later.
  • She’s away from her computer right now because she’s attending to her kids.

Attend or attend to? Espresso English

Got it? You attend class (you go to the class; you’re present in the class) and you attend to a problem, a person needing help, etc. (you turn your attention to it, you handle it, you help).

Call vs. call to

I often see a similar mistake with “call” and “call to.”

I call my mother on the phone, I don’t call to my mother on the phone. In some other languages, we do use a preposition after “call” in this case, but not in English. If we want to go out to dinner, my husband calls the restaurant to make a reservation (not “calls to the restaurant”).

Attend or attend to? Espresso English

Although it’s not as common, we could also use the verb “phone” specifically for calling people on the telephone – I phone my mother every weekend; he phoned the restaurant. Again, this is less common but you’ll sometimes hear it.

“Call to” means to shout – to raise your voice and speak loudly – so that someone who is some distance away can hear you.

When my kids are playing on the playground and they’re rather far away from me but I need them to come here, I would call to my kids, using a loud voice.

Or you might see a soccer player on the other side of the field call to his teammate who has the ball, telling him to kick the ball over here on the other side – he’s raising his voice to call to someone at a distance.

Attend or attend to? Espresso English


Let’s do a quick review of what we learned today:

  • attend class = go to class
  • attend to a problem = pay attention to / handle a problem
  • call someone / phone someone = call the person using a telephone
  • call to someone = shout loudly so someone far away can hear you

Again, you can really take your English to the next level by joining our Advanced English Grammar Course, and especially if you choose the option with teacher correction of your writing tasks.

This is really for the most dedicated English learners and it’s super valuable to get personalized feedback – so I hope I’ll see you inside that course!

Improve your grammar skills and get corrections on your writing:

Attend or attend to? Espresso English

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