Telephone Calls in English for Work

Sep 2, 2015 | 11 comments

I think you and I can agree on something: speaking English on the telephone at work is not easy! But today we are going to fix that. In today’s lesson, I want to focus on general phone conversation skills. You’ll learn key expressions and useful tips for successful phone calls in English!

Like all language skills, you will get better with practice, practice, and more practice! But first, let’s start with some essential tips for communicating clearly and calmly.

  • Before you make a call in English, try to relax. Take a deep breath. Breathe. Calm yourself. And prepare your mind for English. You will be more successful if you are relaxed.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or repetition. (See expressions below)
  • Speak slowly. And ask the other person to speak slowly. It will help both of you.
  • Be polite. Below I have provided formal and informal expressions. If you do not know the person on the phone, it is always best to use formal expressions.

Common Expressions for Speaking on the Telephone at Work


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)


  • 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.)


  • 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.)


  • 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.

NOTE: 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?


  • 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?


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.

Now I’d love to hear from you!

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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