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Master a Conversation with These English Phone Call Phrases

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You recently moved to the United States. Unfortunately, you get an incredibly painful toothache within your first week of residence. What should you do?

Hello. Thank you for calling Bright Smile Dental Clinic. This is Jenny. How may I help you?
*silence*
Hello? Hello?

Language barriers, especially on the phone, can be so inconvenient. Today, you will learn how to overcome such situations with common English phone call phrases.

Placing phone calls in English is easier than you think. For starters, phone call phrases are often routine. Therefore, learning the common ones in English will make calls easier to understand and respond to.

In this article, you’ll learn how to handle a phone call in English in both professional and casual contexts. By the conclusion, you will know how to:

  • Answer the phone
  • Make reservations and appointments
  • Arrange a meeting with friends and acquaintances
  • Leave a message
  • Ask to speak to someone

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. The Roles of a Caller and Receiver
  2. Politeness on the Phone
  3. Stating the Reason for Your Call
  4. Ways to Speak to Someone During a Phone Call
  5. How to End a Phone Call
  6. Sample Phone Conversations
  7. Subscribe to EnglishClass101.com!

1. The Roles of a Caller and Receiver

During phone calls, you play the role of either:

  • Caller – the person making the phone call
  • Receiver – the person answering the phone

The atmosphere of a call changes, depending on whether it is a casual or professional phone call. For close acquaintances, friends, family, and regular callers, it is advisable to add their phone numbers to your Caller ID. Additionally, mobile phones have the option to categorize callers from family members to coworkers.

Your role as a caller and receiver changes, depending on who you talk to via phone.

Let’s first review how you answer the phone as both the caller and receiver.

How to Say “Hello”

First of all, there is a very important word that you must say whenever placing or answering a phone call. 

Hello.

However, your tone changes depending on your role. If you are the caller, you must say “Hello” as a statement or a neutral tone. If you are the receiver, you will answer with “Hello” interrogatively, while saying the final syllable with a rising intonation.

Here is an example phone call as a caller.

Thank you for calling the Italian Bistro. This is Mike. How may I help you?
Hello. I would like to make a reservation for Friday night please.

Here is an example as a receiver.

Hello?
Hello. This is Jenny at the Bright Smile Dental Clinic, calling to confirm your appointment for tomorrow afternoon.

You will say “Hello” these ways when having business-related phone calls or talking to people who are unfamiliar. However, the calls are vastly different when answering or placing a call with a friend. With friends, “Hello” is a little too formal.

Hello?
Hey, this is Tyler!
Oh! Hi, Tyler! What’s up?
Are you free tonight?

Chatting with a Friend

When making the phone call, your friend will act familiar, unless they do not have your phone number saved in their Caller ID.

Hey! What’s up? I missed you!
Hi, Tyler! BTS’s concert ticket sales will go live in two hours! Should I buy one for you, too?

Those are the common phone calls in English. It always depends on who you are talking to. As you become familiar with these calls, it becomes easier.

Here are more ways to say “Hello.”

2. Politeness on the Phone

There are some rules for having phone calls in English, particularly in America.

Stating Who You Are

In America, it is common courtesy to state who you are first when you are placing a call. Never call someone and ask for their name first. Otherwise, it appears rude and may result in something similar to the following tense conversation:

Hello?
Hello. Is this Joseph?
Who wants to know?

When calling someone, always state your name before asking someone to reveal their identity.

Hello?
Hello. This is [your name], calling for Joseph. Is he available?
This is he.

On the contrary, it is advisable to not reveal your name before a caller. If this ever happens, always respond by asking, “May I ask who is calling?” If the caller refuses to reveal their name first, there is nothing wrong with simply hanging up and/or blocking the caller’s number.

However, if the caller introduces himself or herself first, it is courteous practice. Likely, if someone calls you, they want to speak with you specifically. Therefore, they will commonly ask “Is this [your name]?” or “Is [your name] available?” It is more formal to respond with “This is he/she.

Here is an example conversation. 

Hello?
Hello. This is Kiki of Latimer Motors, calling for [your name]. Is she/he available?
This is he/she.
Hello, [your name]. We received your job application and want to schedule an interview with you.

If you are having professional phone calls, you would want to state your identity by mentioning your company name, too.

When answering the phone, you will say, “This is [company], [your name] speaking.” To express even more politeness, thank the caller beforehand.

Answering a Call at Work

Thank you for calling Latimer Motors. This is [your name]. How may I help you?

If you say these phrases during phone calls, you will appear nearly fluent in English.

Here is more info on how to introduce yourself on the phone in English.

3. Stating the Reason for Your Call

In order to have a successful English phone call conversation, you should be able to state the reason for your call.

You may want to ask a question.

I’m calling to ask if you have the Playstation 5 in stock.
I’d like to talk to someone about vehicle appraisals.
I am calling, because…

You can make appointments or reservations.

I’d like to make an appointment/reservation for [date].

It can also be as simple as returning a missed call.

This is [your name], returning your phone call.

Once you boost your vocabulary in English, it will be easier to express your wants and needs during phone calls. You can increase your vocabulary quickly with vocabulary lists on EnglishClass101.com!

4. Ways to Speak to Someone During a Phone Call

We touched on how to begin a phone conversation, but now we will review how to extend the phone conversation.

Asking to Speak to Someone

Perhaps there is a particular person that you would like to speak with. 

Imagine that you are looking for an attorney who specializes in personal injury. After searching for law firms nearby on Google, you located one that is rated 4.6 stars.

There are three common situations for phone calls similar to this one. If the main desk answers, the conversation will go like this:

Thank you for calling [name] Law Firm. This is Natalie. How may I direct your call?
May you please transfer me to [name]?

Maybe you dialed your friend’s number, but someone unfamiliar answered.

Hello?
Oh! Hello. This is [your name]. Is Tyler available?

Lastly, you can simply ask “May I speak to…” Once you learn how to ask to speak to someone, you must know the language for asking someone to wait.

Asking Someone to Wait

There are various reasons to ask someone to wait. Maybe the receiver has to check on an answer to a question.

If you are still anxious to know the availability of the Playstation 5, for example, you may hear either of the following common English phone call phrases:

  • Just a moment, let me check.
  • I am going to transfer you to the Electronics Department. Please hold.

Placing Someone on Hold

In any situation, you will most likely hear this regularly said phrase.

Do you mind if I place you on a brief hold?

You may also hear the following:

Let me see if he/she is available. Please hold.
I am going to transfer you to his/her office. Please hold.

If you happen to be the receiver, you can practice those phrases, too. Hypothetically, if someone says something that you do not understand, you can always say, “Do you mind if I place you on a brief hold?” Then you can locate someone who can better assist the caller.

However, it is not polite to leave someone on hold for more than two minutes. Whether you are the receiver or caller, you should learn how to leave or take a message in such cases.

How to Leave and Take Messages

In cases where there is a long wait or the requested person is unavailable, you should take a message. A message consists of the caller’s name and callback number. Additionally, the message can have the caller’s reason for calling. However, the reason may be too personal. Therefore, do not ask for the reason. The caller will state the reason himself/herself.

You can take the message by saying the following:

Employee Taking a Message

[name] is unavailable at the moment. Can I take a message?

There are easier options, too, such as transferring the caller to the person’s voicemail. That way, they can leave their info independently.

If you are the caller and want to leave a message, you can say either of the following:

  • Can you please transfer me to his/her voicemail?
  • Can I leave a message?
  • Can you please tell him/her to return my call?

Here is more info on how to leave messages via voicemail.

After taking and when leaving the message, you have to make sure the info is accurate. That is where clarification comes in!

Asking for Clarification

When taking messages, we always ask for clarification. The message must be accurate in order to deliver it appropriately.

There may be times when you cannot hear the caller. In these cases, you will say:

I’m sorry. Can you please repeat that?

If you sense a bad connection, you can say the phrase below:

I’m sorry, but I’m having a hard time hearing you. I think there’s a bad connection.

Sometimes, certain names can be complicated to spell.

Can I take a message?
Yes, please. My name is Ashleigh.

You may or may not know that the spelling is different from the common name “Ashley.” You can ask the person…

Could you spell your name for me please?

When asking for clarification in English, not only do we repeat, but we use phonetic alphabets. Phonetic alphabets are commonly used in telecommunications. It is a list of words used for identifying letters of the alphabet. For example, here is Ashleigh’s response.

Yes. That’s “A” as in “Adam,” “S” as in “Sam,” “H” as in “Henry,” “L” as in “Larry,” “E” as in “Edward,” “I” as in “igloo,” “G” as in “George,” and “H” as in “Henry.”

Is your name unique? If so, save the receiver the trouble by immediately spelling your name.

Can I take a message?
Yes, please. My name is [your name]. That’s…

Based on this easy phonetic alphabet chart, how do you spell your name?

AAdamKKateUUnicorn
BBoyLLarryVVictor
CCharlieMMaryWWilliam
DDavidNNancyXX-ray
EEdwardOOscarYYo-yo
FFrankPPeterZZebra
GGeorgeQQueen
HHenryRRobert
IIglooSSam
JJohnTTom

When giving phone numbers in English, we often say it as an individual number. For example, we commonly read 234-567-8910 as 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-1-0. However, sometimes, a person may read the last four digits as tens. It would be read as 2-3-4-5-6-7-89-10. To make things easier for the receiver, say your phone number as individual numbers.

Also, it is always best to repeat for clarification.

Thank you. I’m going to repeat it to make sure everything is correct. That’s [repeat spelling of name conventionally] and [say phone number as individual numbers]. Is that right?

If it is not correct, the caller will repeat to provide the correction.

5. How to End a Phone Call

Lastly, it is time to learn how to end a phone conversation. The common way to end a conversation is with “Bye.” However, there are more phrases to end calls before saying “Bye.” It is practically a summary of the call, giving thanks, and/or offering additional help.

For professional phone calls, you will likely hear or say the following phrases:

Is there anything else I can help you with?
Your reservation/appointment is set for [date] at [time].
Thank you for calling [company]. Have a good day.
You have been very helpful. Thank you.

For friends, it is a lot more casual. With friends, either you end a long conversation with phrases like these…

  • Talk to you later!
  • It was great talking to you!
  • Have a good day/night!

Or you say phrases confirming a meetup like these:

  • I can’t wait to see you on [day]!
  • See you then/later/soon! or See you on [day]!

In English, the very last word spoken on a phone call is Bye. Whether you’re having a formal or informal conversation, do not forget to say Bye.

6. Sample Phone Conversations

Here are two sample English phone call dialogues. The first one is informal, and the second one is formal.

Two friends are setting up a time to meet for brunch on a weekend.

Phone rings. The caller ID says “Tyler.”

– Hi, Tyler!
– Hi there! How’s it going?
– It’s going well! How about you?
– Same here! Are you free on Sunday morning at 11?
– No, I’m free. Why?
– There’s a German restaurant nearby that opened recently. Do you want to try their brunch menu together?
– That sounds great!
– Awesome! I’ll call and make the reservation now.
– Perfect! Thanks, Tyler!
– No problem! See you on Sunday!
– See you on Sunday! Bye!
– Bye!

Reserved Table

Tyler calls the German restaurant.

– Thank you for calling Better Bratwurst. This is Jon. How may I help you?
– Yes. I’d like to make a reservation for two on Sunday morning at 11.
– Sure. May I have your name and phone number please?
– Yes. My name is Tyler. That’s “T” as in “Tom,” “Y” as in “Yo-yo,” “L” as in “Larry,” “E” as in “Edward,” and “R” as in “Robert.” My phone number is 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-1-0.
– Thank you for that information. I set your reservation for two on Sunday morning at 11. Is there anything else I – can help you with?
– No, that is all. Thank you so much.
– You’re very welcome. Thank you for calling Better Bratwurst. Have a good day.
– You too. Bye.

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Congratulations! You made it through your first lesson of common English phone call phrases! You now know how to answer the phone, state who you are, leave messages, and more! We hope you’re feeling more confident now, but let us know in the comments if there are any phrases or situations you’re still uncertain about. We’ll be glad to help! 

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