Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha. In this lesson, I'm going to talk about some phone-related expressions. I've chosen some key verbs that we use when we're using the phone. Today, I'm going to explain the meanings of these verbs and give some example sentences so you can use them, too.
Okay. Let's begin. First, let's start with the first, maybe the basic action of using a phone. The first verb is "to pick up," not pickup, but pick up separately. Pick and up are separate words. "To pick up the phone." "To pick up the phone" means to answer an incoming call. This means when your phone begins buzzing, literally, we physically pick up the phone and answer the call. Meaning, we receive the incoming call. This, on a mobile phone, refers to this action, to pick up the phone and answer the phone. Before mobile phones, when phones were attached to the wall or when phones were like a physical object on a table, it meant physically picking up the receiver and putting it to one's ear to answer the phone. An example sentence, "Can someone pick up the phone? Answer the phone. Someone's calling."
Okay. Let's go to the opposite then. The next verb is "to hang up." Again, this is two words, hang and up, "to hang up." "To hang up the phone" means to end a phone call. This word, actually, this has a bit of history then. Before mobile phones, when phones were objects that were in rooms, when we finished the call, we would place the receiver back on the phone stand. There was a stand for the phone receiver to rest on. It was like we had to hang the receiver on its stand. Or when phones were attached to walls as well, we would hang it on the wall. We use "to hang up" to refer to ending a phone call.
However, even though we don't hang up our mobile phones, we just push a button on our mobile phones, we still use the verb "hang up," actually, to refer to ending the call. Of course you can say, "To end a call" as well, but "hang up" is still very, very commonly used. You can use it, too. This means to end a call. An example, "She hung up on me." Here, past tense, "hung up." "Hang up" becomes "hung up" in past tense, H-U-N-G, hung up.
Okay. Let's go along to the next verb, "to call," a very basic verb for this lesson. "To call" just means to communicate by phone. We can also use "to call" for like Skype calls or other video service calls. Anything that you use like a mobile phone or some kind of video service to do, you can use "to call" to refer to that. That means like FaceTime or whatever. Any other similar application, you can use "call" to refer to that. To communicate via phone is to call. An example of this, "Let's call the customer service number."
Okay. Let's move along to the next verb, which is "to return a call." "To return a call" means to call a person who called you. The nuance here is that you missed the call. If I make a phone call, I tried to call you, but you are not available. I hang up the phone. Later, when you are available, you call me. You can say, "I'm returning your call." That is called returning someone's call. I called you first, you missed it, so you're calling me now. You've returned my call. Another example of this, "I'm returning your call regarding your order." "I'm returning your call regarding, in other words, about your order." "To return a call" is usually because you missed the call, the first call.
Let's look at the next word, which is "to call back." This is very, very similar to "to return a call." However, this is a key difference. You may not have missed the call when you use the expression "to call back." Yes, when you use "call back," it means you are returning someone's call, someone called you. However, maybe in an example situation, I call you and you are able to pick up your phone. You can answer, but you're busy. You're not able to talk in that moment. In that case, you can ask, "Is it okay if I call you back?" In other words, "Can I return your call a little bit later?" In that case, you did not miss my call, but you can't talk right now. We can use the verb "call back" in a situation like this. Let's look at another example. "I'm in a meeting. Can I call you back in an hour?" Here, you'll see we put "you" between call and back. "Can I call you back? Can I call him back? Can I call her back in an hour?" You can include who are you going to call. Put that here, between call and back.
Okay. Let's move along then to the next expression. "To put someone on hold." "To put someone on hold" means to keep someone on the phone line but without talking. I think most people have probably experienced this, especially when calling a customer service phone line. You make the call and you have to wait for a long time. There's usually music playing that's being on hold. I'm on hold in that situation. However, sometimes the operator picks up the phone, and the operator needs to take care of some things, needs to do some tasks or confirm your information. They'll say, "Is it okay if I put you on hold." Meaning, the operator is going to put you back, like put you back on hold, keep you waiting but will not cut the call. The operator may say, "I'll put you on hold," meaning, please wait, in other words. An example of this, "I'll put you on hold while I confirm the information." This shows you're just waiting. You're in a waiting period.
All right. Let's go along to the next expression. "To go to answering machine." This means the call is answered by a machine. Again, this expression is actually a little bit old-fashioned. Before mobile phones, there was a separate machine that was used only for answering calls when someone was unavailable to pick up the phone. There were actual tapes, or when it became digital, they were digital answering machines, but they were specifically for picking off the phone when someone wasn't at home, for example, an answering machine. But today of course, we have mobile phones and we don't have answering machines, actual machines that we use. But we can still use this expression if you like. Here. Yes, "Call is answered by a machine," or in this case, maybe like an automatic voice system answers the call. An example of this, "He didn't answer. My call went to the answering machine." That means like my call was received by an automated voice system.
Okay. Great. Let's go on to the next expression, which is "to leave a voicemail." This is kind of interesting. This means to send a voice message. This is used typically after this step. Your call is answered by an answering machine or an automated voice system and you want to leave a message for the person. You can say, "I'm going to send a voice message," I suppose, but actually, the best expression to use is "leave a voicemail, to leave a voicemail." You leave the voicemail on the answering machine. You leave the voicemail with the automated answering system. An example here, "I left her a voicemail. Hopefully, she'll call back." Past tense here, "I left her a voicemail." We do, we always use this verb, "to leave, to leave a voicemail."
Let's go on to the last item on this list, "to dial, to dial something." This refers to inputting numbers for the phone number. A long time ago with rotary phones, people would actually use a dial. It was a circular dial where the numbers were input and we had to wait while people actually waited for the dial to spin back to its original position before inputting the next number. Then we graduated to using keypads. And of course now, we use keypads that are digital on our mobile phones, perhaps. "To dial" refers to the act of inputting numbers into the phone. Here, "Dial 1-800-555-4422 to reach us," is a great example of how this might be used. "Dial," in other words, means input these numbers to reach us. "To dial" refers to inputting numbers in that way.
We don't use dial in situations outside of phone calls though. We wouldn't say like, "Dial information into your computer," necessarily. We use it for phones a lot. You might hear this, or you might just hear, "Call us at this number." Just a little history point there, perhaps.
Okay. But those are a few words that are related to phones and phone use. I hope that those are helpful for you as you use the phone and as you talk about your phone-related communications. Thank you very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again soon. Bye-bye.

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Well understand! Thank you!

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Very useful information!

amine
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So great