Business English

ESL Telephone Talk

Talking on the telephone can be difficult for a couple of reasons. First of all, you can't see the person you're talking to, so you can't see his or her body language and "read" his or her face. Talking on the
phone also requires its own special set of words and phrases. Here’s a helpful reference chart that will help you speak on the telephone phone with confidence in business and personal situations. We hope you'll find this helpful. Now if you can only find somebody to pay for your cell phone bill you'll be all set!



Introducing yourself. Phrases to use when you place the call.

When calling a general number:
- May I speak with Marina Smith?
- Hello, this is John Block calling for Marina Smith.
- Is Marina Smith in? (informal)

When the person answers the call directly:
- Hi Marina, it’s John calling.
- Good afternoon, Marina. This is John Block from ABC company calling.

 Answering the phone. There are many different ways to answer your phone.

For calls to your direct line:
- Good morning, this is Marina.
- Good afternoon, XYZ firm. How may I help you?
- Marina speaking.
- XYZ firm, Marina speaking.

For calls to your direct line, when the person asks for you by name:
- Speaking (caller says: “Is Marina there?” and Marina replies: “speaking”).
- This is she / this is he (caller says: “Is Marina in?” and Marina replies “This is she”).

For calls to a general number:
- Thank you for calling XYZ. How may I direct your call?

 Connecting someone. When you answer the phone and it is for somebody else.

- One minute, I’ll transfer you now.
- Please hold and I’ll put you through.
- Let me see if Jim is available.
- One moment, please.
- Hang on a minute. (informal)

When you need to put somebody on hold

- Jim is on another line at the moment. Would you like to hold?

- I’m sorry, I have a call on my other line. Can you please hold?

For customer service calls
- All of our operators are currently busy. Please stand by for the next available operator.

 When you don’t understand the caller

- Could you please repeat that?
- I’m sorry, I didn’t catch what you just said.
- Can you please speak a little more slowly?
- Can you please speak a little louder?

 Clarifying what your caller says


- Can you please spell that for me?
- How do you spell your last name?
- And that company name again was, JAQ Industries?
- Let me repeat your information to make sure I got it right.

 Taking a message for someone


- I'm sorry, John’s not here at the moment. Can I take a message?
- John is in a meeting at the moment. May I ask who’s calling?
- John is at lunch. Would you like to leave a message?
- John has left for the day. Would you like to be put through to his voice mail?

 Leaving a message for someone

- Please tell him that Susan called and ask him to call me back. My number is 999-343-3423.
- Please ask him to call Susan when he gets in.
- He already has my number.
- He’s not in? Please put me through to his voice mail.
- When do you expect him back in the office?
- I need to speak with him on an urgent matter. Please have him call me as soon as he gets in.

 Ending a conversation

- It’s been great talking with you. I’ve got a meeting now so I better run.
- Thanks for calling. I’ll speak with you again soon.
- I’ve got another call coming in. Good talking to you.
- I better let you go.
- It’s 5 o’clock already. I better let you go.
- Let’s touch base on this again in a few days.


Leaving a voice mail

- Hello, this is Marina Smith calling to follow-up regarding your order with XYZ company. Can you please call me back at 999-344-3344.

- Hello, this is John Block from ABC. I’m calling regarding the upcoming conference in Miami. I’ll try you again later today.

- Hi, it’s Marina. Please call me back when you get a minute. (informal)

Recording a voice mail message on your machine

- Hello, you’ve reached Marina Smith at XYZ company. I’m sorry I’m not available to take your call. Please leave a message and I’ll call you back as soon as I can. Thank you.

- Hello, you’ve reached John Block at ABC. It’s Monday, May 22, and I will be out of the office all day. I will be checking my voice mail from time to time and will return all urgent calls. Thank you.

If you’re going on vacation
- Hello, this is Marina Smith at the XYZ company. I will be on vacation from Friday, May 12 through Monday, May 22. Please leave a message, and I’ll call you back when I return. Thank you.

 Phrases for cell phone calls

The fading signal
- I’m sorry, I’m losing you. Can you call me back?
- I can barely hear you. Let me call you back on my other phone.
- We’re breaking up. I’m having trouble hearing you. Let me call you back later.

The lost call
- Hi, it’s Marina again. Apparently we got cut off.
- Hi, it’s John again. Sorry I lost you. My cell phone dropped the signal.

 SPELLING OUT NAMES OVER THE PHONE. Often you will need to spell something out over the telephone, such as a last name. It will help your listener is you offer words for each letter. Give words or names that are very common for each letter.

- My last name is Czarnek. C as in cat, Z as in zebra, A as in apple, R as in Robert, N as in Nancy, e as in egg, K as in king.

- My registration number is 459N4AF. That’s 459, N as in Nancy, 4 A as in Apple, F as in Frank.


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