Telephone Language

Here are some typical phrases that you can use in a telephone conversation.

Answering the phone
  • Hello? (informal)
  • Thank you for calling Boyz Autobody. Jody speaking. How can I help you?
  • Doctor’s office.
Introducing yourself
  • Hey George. It’s Lisa calling. (informal)
  • Hello, this is Julie Madison calling.
  • Hi, it’s Gerry from the dentist’s office here.
  • This is she.*
  • Speaking.*

*The person answering says this if the caller does not recognize their voice.

Asking to speak with someone
  • Is Fred in? (informal)
  • Is Jackson there, please? (informal)
  • Can I talk to your sister? (informal)
  • May I speak with Mr. Green, please?
  • Would the doctor be in/available?
Connecting someone
  • Just a sec. I’ll get him. (informal)
  • Hang on one second. (informal)
  • Please hold and I’ll put you through to his office.
  • One moment please.
  • All of our operators are busy at this time. Please hold for the next available person.
Making special requests
  • Could you please repeat that?
  • Would you mind spelling that for me?
  • Could you speak up a little please?
  • Can you speak a little slower please. My English isn’t very strong.
  • Can you call me back? I think we have a bad connection.
  • Can you please hold for a minute? I have another call.
Taking a message for someone
  • Sammy’s not in. Who’s this? (informal)
  • I’m sorry, Lisa’s not here at the moment. Can I ask who’s calling?
  • I’m afraid he’s stepped out. Would you like to leave a message?
  • He’s on lunch right now.Who’s calling please?
  • He’s busy right now. Can you call again later?
  • I’ll let him know you called.
  • I’ll make sure she gets the message.
Leaving a message with someone
  • Yes, can you tell him his wife called, please.
  • No, that’s okay, I’ll call back later.
  • Yes, it’s James from CompInc. here. When do you expect her back in the office?
  • Thanks, could you ask him to call Brian when he gets in?
  • Do you have a pen handy. I don’t think he has my number.
  • Thanks. My number is 222-3456, extension 12.
Confirming information
  • Okay, I’ve got it all down.
  • Let me repeat that just to make sure.
  • Did you say 555 Charles St.?
  • You said your name was John, right?
  • I’ll make sure he gets the message.
Listening to an answering machine
  • Hello. You’ve reached 222-6789. Please leave a detailed message after the beep.Thank you.
  • Hi, this is Elizabeth. I’m sorry I’m not available to take your call at this time. Leave me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
  • Thank you for calling Dr. Mindin’s office. Our hours are 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday. Please call back during these hours, or leave a message after the tone. If this is an emergency please call the hospital at 333-7896.
Leaving a message on an answering machine
  • Hey Mikako. It’s Yuka. Call me! (informal)
  • Hello, this is Ricardo calling for Luke. Could you please return my call as soon as possible. My number is 334-5689. Thank you.
  • Hello Maxwell. This is Marina from the doctor’s office calling. I just wanted to let you know that you’re due for a check-up this month. Please give us a ring/buzz whenever it’s convenient.
Finishing a conversation
  • Well, I guess I better get going. Talk to you soon.
  • Thanks for calling. Bye for now.
  • I have to let you go now.
  • I have another call coming through. I better run.
  • I’m afraid that’s my other line.
  • I’ll talk to you again soon. Bye.

 Telephone Terms

Here are some of the words and terms that we use to talk about telephoning.

answer to say “hello” into the phone when it rings
answering machine something that you can record a message on if the person you are calling isn’t home
busy signal a beeping sound that tells the caller that the other person is already on the phone with someone else
call a telephone conversation; to telephone
caller the person who telephones
call back/phone back to call someone who called you first
call display a screen that shows you who is calling
cellular phone/cell phone a telephone that you can take with you away from your house; mobile phone
cordless phone a phone that is not attached to the wall (you can walk short distances with it at home or in the garden)
dial to press the buttons on the phone
dial tone the sound the phone makes when you pick it up
directory/phone book a book that alphabetically lists local phone numbers of people and businesses
hang up to put the receiver down and end a call
operator a person who answers telephone-related questions when you dial “0″
pager a small machine you wear that makes a noise (or vibrates) when someone wants you to call them
phone a telephone; to telephone
phone booth/pay phone a place where you can pay to use a telephone in public
pick up to answer the phone
receiver the piece on the phone that you speak into and listen from
ring the sound a phone makes when somebody calls; to make that sound
ringer the sound-piece that alerts a person that a call is coming through





Ms. Sykes : Hello, good morning! May I speak to Mr. Smith, please? I tried to call him yesterday

but I couldn’t get through. What happened?

Secretary : Yesterday was a holiday, madam. Could you hold on for a minute? I’ll put you

through to Mr. Smith.

Ms. Sykes : Oh, yes I forgot that it was a holiday yesterday. Thanks!

Secretary : Sorry madam, Mr. Smith is in a meeting right now. Would you like to leave

a message?

Ms. Sykes : Yes, please. Can you tell Mr. Smith to return my call? It’s 550-7025-8956.

I’m calling from Mr. Roger’s office.

Secretary : Sure. I’ll tell him. He’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Ms. Sykes : Thank you so much!


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