Summary: A carefully chosen list of the most important phrases for making and receiving business and personal telephone calls, including lots of useful language for starting and ending calls, dealing with communication problems, taking and leaving messages, etc.
Telephoning can be one of the biggest challenges in another language, but memorising and practising the most important telephoning phrases below can make it really manageable. This article is part of a series on useful telephoning phrases:
- How to start phone calls in English
- How to end phone calls smoothly and politely
- The 100 most useful telephoning phrases
For over 100 pages of stimulating self-study practice of these phrases with model dialogues, hints, a detailed answer key, realistic speaking practice, tips of how to study efficiently on your own and many more useful phrases see the Really Learn the Most Useful Telephoning Phrases e-book.
The most useful phrases for starting phone calls
Answering the phone
- Good morning/ afternoon/ evening. ABC Limited. Alex Case speaking. How can I help you?
Saying who you are (caller)
- My name is Francis Cripps. I work for JUPG PLC.
- This is Francis Cripps (again), (calling) from JUPG PLC.
- Hi Alex. It’s Francis Cripps (from Finance/…) (again).
Small talk/ Being friendly at the beginning of the phone call
- How’s it/ the conference/ your week/ your project/… going?
- Did you have a good weekend/ trip/ holiday/…?
- How’s business?
- I heard that the weather there is much cooler/ that…
- I guess that you are really busy/ that…
- I’m (so) glad/ sorry/ happy/ relieved/ … to hear that.
- (That) sounds great/ terrible/ awful/ interesting/ nice/ encouraging/ fun/ …
- How about you?
Being polite at the beginning of the phone call
- Thanks for calling me back.
- Thanks for getting back to me (so quickly).
- Sorry to phone so early in the morning (but…)
- Sorry it took me so long to get back to you.
- Sorry to ring again so soon (but…)
- Sorry to trouble you again (but…)
Ending the small talk/ Smoothly getting down to business/ Moving towards the topic
- So, what can I do for you today?
- Anyway, have you got a minute (to talk)?
Talking about the reason for the phone call
- I just got your message.
- I’m returning your call.
- Someone phoned me from this number.
- Anyway, I’m phoning about the meeting next week/ about…
- I’m calling to ask about the meeting next week/ to…
- So, did you see my email about the delivery/ about…?
- Well, just a quick call to say…
- Well, I was given your number by…
- I found your number…
Asking to speak to someone
- Can I speak to Kim Smith (in the Sales Department), please?
- Is Kim (Smith) there?
- I’d like to speak to someone about replacing our photocopiers/ about…
- I need to speak to someone in the shipping department/ in…
Asking about the caller’s name
- Sorry, I didn’t catch your name.
- May I ask who is calling?
Asking about the receiver
- Sorry, who am I speaking to, please?
- Is that Kim (Smith)?
- Is this the right number for the HR department/ for…?
- Is that the… department/ division/ section/ team?
- Are you the right person to speak to about…?
The most useful phrases for the body of a phone call
Connecting the caller to the right person
- Can I ask what it is concerning?
- Of course. I’ll (just) check if he’s available.
- Okay. I’m putting you through.
- I’ll connect you to… She should be able to help.
Negative answers to requests to speak to someone
- I’m sorry but she’s away from her desk/ out of the office/ out of the country/ not in today. (She should be back…)
- I’m afraid he’s on another line/ her line is busy/….
Leaving messages/ Dictating
- Can I leave a message?
- Can you tell her that…?
- Can you ask her to send me six hundred and fifty HYDV765s/ to…?
- My office number/ work number/ landline/ mobile (number)/ home phone is oh one double six treble one.
- My (postal) address is twenty three black new word bird park new line midtown capital b capital b capital p capital m.
- The URL is http colon double slash high dash life dot com slash alex underscore case.
- My (work/ personal) (e)mail address is alexcase all one word at outlook dot com.
Taking messages/ Taking dictation
- Does she have your number?
- Can I take a message?
- Shall I ask her to call you back?
- (Okay.) Got it (now) (,thanks).
Other responses to someone not being there
- No, that’s okay, thanks. I’ll (just) call again later. (Do you know when she will be available?)
- Actually, it’s quite urgent. Could you give me his mobile number?
- Is there anyone else I can speak to about…?
- Can I help you at all?
Asking people to wait
- Please hold the line. I’ll connect you to a member of our customer service staff/ I’ll check if she’s available/ I’ll…
- Just a moment while I get a pen and some paper/ while I find the file/ while I…. Okay, please go ahead.
- Just a minute. I’m (just) getting your account up on the screen/ I’m (just)…
Checking/ Clarifying/ Not understanding/ Dealing with communication problems
- Can I check that back?
- Sorry, could you say that again (a little more slowly)?
- Sorry, can you repeat the first word/ the last part/…?
- … Is that right?
- Sorry, could you spell your family name/… (for me), please?
- Just to (double) check,…
- Sorry, is that B for Bobby (or V for virgin)/ one five (or five oh)/ two words (or all one word)/ …. (or…)?
Talking about written sources (documents, webpages etc)
- Do you have the information in front of you now?
- I’m sending you the document/ … right now.
- If you turn to page (number) three and look at the second paragraph,…
The most useful phrases for ending phone calls
Ending taking messages
- Okay, I’ll make sure (that) he gets your message. (I’m sure he will get back to you soon.)
Checking that the other person has finished and responding to that
- So, is there anything else (that I can help you with) (today)?
- (Okay then,) was there anything else (that you’d like to ask)?
- No, that’s all (for now), thanks.
- Actually, there is just one more thing….
Smoothly ending a phone call (giving reasons for finishing the call, etc)
- Anyway, it’s been great to talk, but I’m afraid I have a meeting in a few minutes/ I’m afraid I… (so…)
- I’d like to talk more about this but I’m afraid someone has just come in/ I’m afraid… (so…)
- That seems to have covered everything, thanks.
- That’s been really helpful, thanks.
- Okay, I won’t keep you any longer, then.
Talking about the next contact between you/ Talking about the future
- Can I call you back (a little) later?
- Could you possibly call again (a little) later?
- I’ll email you by the end of business today/ later (today)/ in the next couple of days/…
- (I can’t hear you very well). Shall we hang up and try again?
- I’ll check (…) and call you (right) back.
- Could you (possibly) find out and call me back?
- Please call again if you have any other questions/ problems/...
- I look forward to your call.
- Looking forward to hearing from you.
- Speak to you then/ tomorrow/ soon/ later/… (, then).
- See you then/ tomorrow/ soon/ on Monday/ there/… (, then).
Polite and/ or friendly language at the end of the call
- Thanks for (all) your help.
- Thanks for calling/ your call.
- Sorry I couldn’t be more help.
- Have a good evening/ day/ weekend/….
- Bye (for now).
To memorise and practise all the phrases above and prepare for your own real phone calls, see the Really Learn the Most Useful Telephoning Phrases e-book.
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