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Telephone Phrases

Here are some common phrases and sentences you can use when speaking on the telephone. The informal phrases are mostly for family and friends. The formal phrases are for business and official calls and for calls to important people. Caller unknown means the person answering the phone doesn't know who's calling. This mostly occurs when answering a call to a landline phone without caller ID or to a mobile phone or smartphone from a number that isn't listed in the phone's contacts.

Answering the phone (informal)

  • Hello. Matt here. (caller unknown)
  • Hi, Jody. How are you?
  • Hey, Justin. What's up?

Answering the phone (formal)

  • Hello? Serena speaking. (caller unknown)
  • John Sayles speaking. Who's calling, please? (caller unknown)
  • Doctor Martin's office. May I know who's calling, please? (caller unknown)
  • Thank you for calling Jeans Plus. Jody speaking.
  • Hello Maria. Nice to hear from you.
  • Hello Dr Jones. How can I help you?
  • City Library. Kim speaking. What can I do for you, Robert?

Introducing yourself

  • Hey George. It's Lisa calling. (informal)
  • Hello, this is Julie Madison calling.
  • Hi. It's Angelina from the dentist's office here. (informal)
  • Hello Sayoko. This is Alan calling from Big Boyz Autobody.

Asking to speak with someone

  • Hi. Is Nina there? (informal)
  • Can you put Michael on? (informal)
  • Can I talk to Josef? Tell him Marilyn's calling. (informal)
  • May I speak to Mr. Green in the accounting department, please?
  • Good morning. Is Dr Martin available, please?

Connecting someone

  • Just a sec. I'll get him. (informal)
  • Hang on a moment. I'll see if she's in. (informal)
  • One moment please. I'll see if he's available.
  • Hold the line please. I'll put you through in a moment.
  • Please hold while I put you through to the manager's office.
  • All of our staff are busy at this time. Please hold for the next available person.

Making a request

  • 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 good, I'm afraid.
  • Could you let me know when she'll be in the office, please?
  • Would you mind calling back in an hour? I'm in a meeting just now.
  • Can you call again? I think we have a bad connection.
  • Please hold for just a minute. I have another call.
  • Please don't call this number again.

Taking a message

  • Can I take a message?
  • Would you like to leave a message?
  • Sammy's not in. I can tell him you called if you like. (informal)
  • No, that's okay. I'll call him later. (informal)
  • I'm sorry, but Lisa's not here at the moment. Can I take a message?
  • I'm afraid he's stepped out. Would you like to leave a message?
  • She's busy right now. Would you like her to return your call?
  • He's in a meeting at the moment. Can he call you back when he's free?
  • Fine. I'll let him know you called.
  • I'll make sure she gets your message.

Leaving a message

  • Can I leave a message?
  • Would you mind giving her a message?
  • Would it be possible to leave a message?
  • Could you tell her Jonathon called?
  • Could you ask him to call Paul when he gets in?
  • I don't think he has my number. Do you have a pen handy?
  • Thanks. It's James Brown and my number is 222 3456.

Confirming a message

  • Let me repeat that just to make sure. It's James Brown at 222 3456?
  • Was that 555 Charles Street, Apartment 66?
  • I'll make sure he gets the message.
  • It's Johnny, right? And you won't be at the club until midnight. (informal)
  • Okay, got it. I'll let him know. (informal)

Answering machine and voicemail phrases

  • Hey, Brad here. What's up? Let me know after the tone, OK? (informal)
  • Hi, this is Liz. I'm sorry I can't take your call right now, but if you leave a message after the tone I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
  • You've reached 222 6789. Please leave a message after the tone. Thank you.
  • Thank you for calling Dr. Mindin's office. Our hours are 9am to 5pm, Monday to 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.
  • You have reached Steve James, your guide to Computer Technology. Unfortunately, I can't take your call right now, but if you leave me a message and include your name and telephone number, I'll get back to you as soon as I can. You can also contact me via email at computech@XYZ.com. Thank you for calling.

Leaving an answering machine or voicemail message

  • Hey Mikako. It's Yuka. Call me, OK? (informal)
  • Hello, this is Ricardo calling. Could you please return my call as soon as possible. My number is 334 5689. Thank you.
  • Hi Anderson. 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 call us to make an appointment at your earliest convenience.

Ending a conversation

  • Well, I guess I'd better get going. Talk again soon, OK? (informal)
  • Thanks for calling. Bye for now.
  • I have to let you go now.
  • I have another call coming through. I'd better run.
  • I'm afraid that's my other line.
  • I'll talk to you again soon. Bye Jules.
Sometimes we have to spell something over the telephone like an address or a name. Native English speakers often use a special alphabet when they spell over the phone. For example, "The postcode is B2V 3A8. That's B for Bravo, number 2, V for Victor, number 3, A for Alpha, number 8."