#162: 46 Must-Have Phrases for Professional Telephone Calls in English
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
- 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)
- Susan speaking.
Greeting and Introducing Yourself
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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!
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.
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Thanks for lesson, it was helpful
I used to use the expression : ” wait please to see her”
But the correct one is as you mentioned in the lesson: ” I am sorry she is not available at the moment, can I take a message for her?”
Thank you for your lesson. I was always taught to use the expression: “Could you put me through with …, please?” But the correct pronunciation of the word ‘through’ is always challenging for me. I preffer expressions with ‘connect’ word. What I learned today is: “Could you have her return my call tomorrow?”
Thank you so much for your useful lesson. I mostly make medical calls to schedule an appointment or writing down the doctor’s office which I need to clarify the address to go to the right location, and this lesson help me so much how to clarify or even request for slowing down to understand better.
Thanks again and appreciate it.
Thank you for your amazing, helpful lessons.
Thank you for this wonderful lesson. I’m about to start as an Office Administrator, and teaching us some phrases to make appointments would be appreciated.
Hi Maryam, thank you for the comment. I’m glad this one was helpful and I’d love to do a lesson on phrases for making appointments. Could you tell me a little bit more so I can provide a lesson that will truly help you? What kinds of appointments? Are you making the appointments for yourself or someone else? Are you also confirming appointments? Are you doing it by phone or email?
I would like to know which is the correct preposition for use when I am the one asking for someone if available on the phone:
May I speak to Lewis?
or May I peal with Lewis?
Which options are better to use for both because I saw it watching your video.
“Peel” is much better. That’s what I do with my friends – we get together and, more often thah not, we peel.
Thanks for teaching us English . I would like to have deeper understanding on these wards cooprartion, coordinating, adhere,
Dear My Teacher Annemarie
Let me ask you one questions,
Please elaborate about tenses one more time? Thank you
Thank you so much for this regretful and fantastic lesson.This lesson is really a problem solver and help for me.
Many thanks my Dear
I will probably use this phrase, I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. Could you please repeat yourself?
I’m grateful to discover you. This lesson is really a big help for me. I was just hired as Admin Asst and my CEO is an English native speaker. I have a problem speaking English, most of the time I am out of words to say even in a simple conversation.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much for this wonderful lesson.
One confusion I have :
Can we use the word ‘DEAR’ in a professional business call ?
For ex: Can a prospect/customer call a Customer Care representative ‘My Dear.<Name>…’ in the middle of the conversation which is solely product related ?
Hi, thank you for the question. In U.S. business culture, using ‘dear’ is not appropriate. It’s too intimate to use for business letters, emails, and phone calls.
Ihought that asking to slow down is a shame full thing but when i head you saying that even the native speakers ask that so i felt more confident to make any calling using this phrases :sorry wold you mind slowing down.
Omg. What i say.how do you know what’s going on in my mind. Really i’m amused to read these important Articles, to be Honest everyday i have to practice with my English speaking partner. And really i didn’t know how to end my call from myself. Now i’ve learned how to end my conversation with my partner that is ( it was great to conversation with you) (i wll talk to you Again in the next day) really i love your teaching strategy. Love from Bangladesh
Dear Annemarie, thanks for an amazing lesson.
Hello. This is Carl with Company X. Could you connect me with someone in the training department?
thank you for this wonderful lesson
Dear Annemari, Thanks for an amazing lesson video. That was really helpful. I need help with the following situation, please. How do I start a phone conversation in this scenario? We have been a customer of <insert their business name> for 7 years. We are thinking about changing providers because we feel the customer service provided is less than satisfactory. Phone Call to Customer Rapport is established Customer’s name is used Open questioning techniques are used to explore customer issues Customer concerns are acknowledged Paraphrasing is used to summarise customer concerns An… Read more »
Dear Annemarie,You asked me two challenge questions related to phone calls.Here they are.
1.Hello, I’m Meena Sevak speaking, would you like to leave the message?I’ll definitely let her know about your call.
2.I am sorry but I didn’t catch you. Could you please repeat that again?
Dear Annemerie, I enjoy your lessons.They are interesting as well as very useful for me.
Hey Annemarie I love the way you teach.. when I hear you it looks like it is very easy to speak English but sometimes i stuck. As I am working in a dress designing store in usa and I feel so nervous when customers come to buy and try dresses and I don’t know how to give them honest compliments and make them feel like I am confident and a good sale person . I would love if you give me some ideas that how to give them compliments .. thanks
Hey Annemarie, I wanna ask about a particular situation… So what should I say If somebody is asking for getting internship at their institution…and they also ask me about what am I planning for career opportunities after I ‘ll complete my studies…
So the question is how should I formally deny them and communicate about interest and my inclination towards something else….for now I’m indulging my focus somewhere else..
Because the respective person who has called me started explaining about every pros and every minor information related to the them….
Hoping for the best lesson
Hi Annemarie. I should confess that your diction is flawless. I am a teacher and I really enjoy your method of teaching. You’re trying to teach each lesson by the simplest way so that everyone can learn in the most effective and efficient way. Good luck.
what is the best way to say professionally if a person on the other line was hard to hear, or voice is breaking up. i always have a trouble explaining to them when i cant hear them properly.
Thank you Annemarie for your good content and dedication for teaching English to non- native speakers.
Good day Annemarie. The phrases would help me a lot especially when calling our BOD, which I usually do almost every week. I like the phrase “I’m sorry, do you mean to say”.
Wow Annemarie,your phone phrase lesson is very effective and easy to learn.It is very motivated and stratetegic.Like before answering the phone like:-take a few deep breaths,calm down and prepare to speak in English.One of the lesson I will practice is:-I’m sorry I didn’t catch that,could you say that one more time.
Well Annemarie,I really appreciate the result of your efforts in Speak Confident English.thank you so much.
I’m so glad to hear this lesson was useful to you!! Sounds like you have some effective new phrases to use.
1. I sell insurance policies over the phone and I need to ask the same questions that other person did before, and most customers are very upset.
2.New expression I will start using: Sorry, to interrupt. Before you continue, can I clarify what you said?
Yes, that’s exactly what I face it.
Thank you so much, for your amazing video
I have long wanted to speak english.
Today I´ve taken this first lesson.
The diction in your speech is so impeccable that,
I mostly understand what you say.
It is true that conversations on the phone are a challenge.
There are various idioms and accents in english that,
I find confusing and increase my insecurity to speak.
Thank you!! 💗 Through this class you transmit and
inspire security. Wonderful to find you on the web🙌🎉👏
The best energy always!!🍀
Hi Claudia Licia. Thank you so much for your comment. We’re thrilled to know this lesson was helpful to you. We wish you much continued success in your English.
Thank you very much Annemarie !😊
This lesson is very important for first time in the conversation 👍and i have learning a lot with you, for an phrases to téléphone calls or another …🙏👏
Today I learned how to take a message.
and thank you ma’am.
1) I have a question about when I Sam calling to someone or have been transferred to a department and I’m not sure if that’s the right one.
2) The most helpful statement in the lesson is : Could you have him/her return my call?
Your lessons are fantastic. Thanks a lot. ❤️
hi annemarie, lm going to work for a insurance car company soon, im going an agent answering phone calls, can help with more vocabulary, thanks and i will apreciatte it.
Want to in English
Hi Anemaire! I just want to say thank you!
Hi Anemaire, this is seleshi I have got a great lesson in various ways. Thank you and God bless you.
Everytime I make a call back, I always hear an answer from my customer, “this is her” or “this is his”. I seldom hear from them a reply of “yes speaking” or this is (name).
Is “this is his/her” a formal or informal phrase?
Thank you so much for this lesson Annemarie. I’m in marketing and I reach out to companies for my ideas. My problem is how to leave a message whenever my call go straight to the voicemail. I’m not sure how to begin and end a voicemail in a business manner.
I like all the phrase that you have used on “how to clarify phone call”. I always say ” I’m sorry, say that again?”. I feel that I annoy the person on the other line every time I use that phrase.
Dear Annemarie, thank you very much for this wonderful class on common and important telephone phrases. I always find it difficult answering telephone calls from academics whom I consider as good speakers of English. I am an undergraduate and most times, my lecturers ring me up especially my supervisor to find out the progress of my research work. Although, I have learnt from this class, how to always put them on hold formally while I comport myself to speak with them in English, I would appreciate it if you could help me with more tips on how to always communicate… Read more »
I love anthem of Liverpool ” You never walk alone” and I´m practically finding out that I’m not alone in it (I can’t sleep before the English teleconference). I don’t know if anyone will enjoy it, but I will.
Your lesson is really helpful, thank you
Hello, I’m a receptionist and I have to answer the phone off course, but more than that I need to filter calls. When a person asks to talk to the CEO or a manager for exemple, and I need to be sure that he knows him and it’s not only because the person wants to sell some services, what will be the polite and professional way to ask ( is he knows the CEO personnally, or if his call is expected?).
Thank you so much for your answer and all your tips.
Great question, Delphine! This is what I hear a lot of receptionists say: First, “May I ask who’s calling?” If the caller gives the specific name, then you could say, “And may I ask what this is concerning?” The caller should be able to provide a reason for the call. If they are not clear or they try to avoid answering, you have a couple of options: 1. “[Insert CEO name] prefers that I provide the purpose of the call prior to transferring directly to him/her.” 2. “I’d be happy to take down your information and let [CEO name] know… Read more »
Good morning Annemarie
Thank you for the telephone phrases, however I’m still struggling I bit and I’m hoping soon I would be able to strike a balance. I sometimes become anxious and I don’t want to make mistakes or give incorrect information especially talking to a native speaker I feel intimidated but I won’t give up.
Thank you so much for your comment. It’s 100% normal to feel that way. Speaking on the telephone may be quite frustrating and challenging, but if you take one step at a time your telephone skills will definitely improve. Learning another language — and speaking it fluently — is not easy. We make a lot of mistakes along the way. It requires perseverance and I can see you have that because you’re not giving up. I wish you continued success in your English progress.
Dear Annemarie. Thank you so much again for your absolutely unique lessons and generous work for us. Telephone calls were really difficult for me particularly when someone were calling to me. I am grateful for the fortunate chance to come to your channel. Every your lesson gives steps to confidence.
What a wonderful comment, Damira. Thank you. I’m thrilled to know my lessons are helping you develop confidence. 🙌
Hello Annemarie, You’re asking for a common phone call I make in English but don’t know what phrase or question to use. Here it is:
I regularly take part in conference calls with American (NY) colleagues. Because of the conference situation (everyone talks in a mess) I often find it difficult to understand correctly. How do I proceed, what should I say then?
Thank you soo much 🙂
Great question, Frank. It certainly is difficult when so many people speak at the same time. One thing I often say is, “I’m sorry [insert name], I wan’t able to catch what you said. Would you mind repeating that?”
1.exactly , I can talk though the phone with important conversation, because I don’t understand what are they saying . like the phone call from the doctor, from school of my kid, from some office…. Totally I don’t understand at all .If you can help me , that would be great .
2. Now after watching your video, I know how to say : can you speak lowly please , can you say that again please, or can you explain it for me . In the phone if I don’t understand .
Many thanks to Annemarie,that she learning us
It’s very helpful.thank you.
woww…the way ur teaching..awesome..
Where to type my questions
I don’t want anyone to see my message. Let it be me and you
I’m seeing any reply
very helpful thank you
Really structured and useful
Thanks Meghdad, we are so glad you think so.