call: Function Calls

callR Documentation

Function Calls


Create or test for objects of mode "call" (or "(", see Details).


call(name, ...)



a non-empty character string naming the function to be called.


arguments to be part of the call.


an arbitrary R object.



returns an unevaluated function call, that is, an unevaluated expression which consists of the named function applied to the given arguments (name must be a string which gives the name of a function to be called). Note that although the call is unevaluated, the arguments ... are evaluated.

call is a primitive, so the first argument is taken as name and the remaining arguments as arguments for the constructed call: if the first argument is named the name must partially match name.

is used to determine whether x is a call (i.e., of mode "call" or "("). Note that

  • is strictly equivalent to typeof(x) == "language".

  • is.language() is also true for calls (but also for symbols and expressions where is false).

Objects of mode "list" can be coerced to mode "call". The first element of the list becomes the function part of the call, so should be a function or the name of one (as a symbol; a character string will not do).

If you think of using<string>), consider using str2lang(*) which is an efficient version of parse(text=*). Note that call() and, when applicable, are much preferable to these parse() based approaches.

All three are primitive functions. is generic: you can write methods to handle specific classes of objects, see InternalMethods.


call should not be used to attempt to evade restrictions on the use of .Internal and other non-API calls.


Becker, R. A., Chambers, J. M. and Wilks, A. R. (1988) The New S Language. Wadsworth & Brooks/Cole.

See Also for calling a function by name and argument list; Recall for recursive calling of functions; further is.language, expression, function.

Producing calls etc from character: str2lang and parse.

Examples #-> FALSE: Functions are NOT calls

## set up a function call to round with argument 10.5
cl <- call("round", 10.5) # TRUE
identical(quote(round(10.5)), # <- less functional, but the same
          cl) # TRUE
## such a call can also be evaluated.
eval(cl) # [1] 10

class(cl) # "call"
typeof(cl)# "language" && is.language(cl) # always TRUE for "call"s

A <- 10.5
call("round", A)        # round(10.5)
call("round", quote(A)) # round(A)
f <- "round"
call(f, quote(A))       # round(A)
## if we want to supply a function we need to use or similar
f <- round
## Not run: call(f, quote(A))  # error: first arg must be character
(g <-, quote(A))))
## alternatively but less transparently
g <- list(f, quote(A))
mode(g) <- "call"
## see also the examples in the help for