#162: 46 Must-Have Phrases for Professional Telephone Calls in English

by | Jan 22, 2020 | 43 comments

This lesson content has been updated. It was originally published in May 2015.

I think you and I can agree on something: telephone calls in English aren’t easy!

You may already be nervous speaking English but the telephone adds extra pressure — you have no time to prepare and you can’t use body language to help.

And there’s stress about saying things the “right” way in English, even simple things like how to answer the phone.

Today I want to help you know with 100% confidence that you’re using the right English — the same phrases and questions native speakers use.

In the video, you’ll learn must-have phrases for:

  • answering the phone
  • introducing yourself
  • asking for someone
  • putting someone on hold
  • taking a message

And much more.

Then in this lesson, I share 46 must-have phrases for successful telephone calls in English.

46 Must-Have Phrases for Telephone Calls in English

Answering the Phone

Formal

  • Hello. This is Susan. (Personal)
  • Hello, thank you for calling [name of company]. This is Susan – how can I help you? (Professional)
  • Good morning (good afternoon), this is Susan. How can I help you? (Professional)

Informal

  • Hello.
  • Susan speaking.

Greeting and Introducing Yourself

Formal

  • This is Laure from [company name].
  • Hello. This is Laure. I am calling about… (your advertisement, information about your services, to make a reservation, etc.)

Informal

  • Hi. It’s Laure.
  • Hi – it’s me. (Use this when the other person will recognize your voice. For example, your mother, your best friend, or your brother.)

Asking to Speak to Someone

Formal

  • Is _____________ available? (Example: Is Çim available?)
  • May I speak to ________________? (Example: May I speak to the doctor?)
  • I’d like to talk with _____________. (Example: I’d like to talk with Mr. Adams.)

Informal

  • Is _______ free? (Example: Is Çim free?)
  • Can I talk to ______? (Example: Can I talk to mom?)

Putting Someone on Hold

Formal

  • Can I put you on hold for a moment, please?
  • Would you mind holding for just a moment?
  • If it is ok with you, I am going to put you on hold for a moment. I will see if she is available.

⚡️Pro Tip: These expressions can also be used when you are not ready to speak in English on the phone. You can use this moment to calm yourself and prepare yourself to speak English.

Informal

  • Hold on a sec. (Note: “Sec” is short for “second” and is another way to say “Hold on a moment.”)
  • Just a sec.
  • Just a moment.

Clarifying and Asking for Repetition

Formal

  • I’m sorry – I didn’t catch that. Could you please repeat yourself?
  • I’m sorry – do you mean to say [identify what you understand]?
  • Just to clarify, you said… (Example: Just to clarify, you said you were calling from RTR Industries?)
  • Would you mind spelling that for me?
  • Would you mind slowing down?
  • Would you mind speaking a little more slowly?

Informal

  • I’m sorry. Could you repeat that?
  • Can you spell that?

Taking a Message for Someone

Formal

  • I’m sorry. She isn’t available at the moment. Can I take a message for her?
  • If you leave a message, I will be sure to get it to him as soon as he is available.
  • She is away at the moment. May I ask who is calling?
  • Would you like me to connect you to his voicemail?

Informal

  • I’ll let him/her know that you called.
  • Who’s calling, please?

Leaving a Message for Someone

Formal

  • Yes. Thank you. Please tell her Selma called. Ask her to call me back at 430.444.4444.
  • Could you have her return my call tomorrow?
  • Please tell him I’ll be available on Thursday at 9:00.
  • Yes, please put me through to her voicemail. Thank you.

Informal

  • No thanks. I’ll call back later.
  • Yeah, tell him Selma called.

Ending Your Call

Formal

  • Thank you for calling. I will make sure to give him the message.
  • Thanks for calling – I have another phone call so I will need to let you go.
  • Thanks for calling and have a great day.

Informal

  • I need to let you go.
  • I have a meeting soon so I have to run. (Americans would also say: “I have a meeting soon so I gotta run. “Gotta” is short for “got to” or “have to.“)
  • It was great to chat. I’ll talk to you again soon.

Links to Confident English Lessons from this Video:

How to Tell Someone to Wait in English

Now I’d love to hear from you!

I have two challenge questions for you:

1. What is a common phone call you make in English but don’t know what phrase or question to use? Share with me below and I’ll help you get the right language.

2. Share with me one new expression you learned in this lesson that you can start using on the telephone?

You can share in the comments below. This is the best way to communicate with me, get feedback, and ask questions.

Have a fantastic week.
– Annemarie

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