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Making Phone Calls in English

Making a phone call in a language that is not your mother tongue can be quite nerve-racking! For this month's newsletter, we'll look some phrases that are commonly used in both formal and informal phone conversations.

 

People generally answer the phone “Hello?” on their private line, with “[Last name] residence” on a family home phone number, or more formally by using the word “speaking.”

 

Hi, this is the Irish Press, Daniel speaking.
Caption 44, Business English: Starting on a new job

 

When you make a call, you will first need to introduce yourself. 

 

Hello, this is Daniel. -Hi Daniel, this is Julia from Phonez and More.
Caption 10, Business English: Difficulties with coworkers and contracts

 

Uh, hi, Jonathan. It's Julia Smith for the marketing department interview.
Caption 7, Business English: The job interview

 

You might then need to ask if the person you want to speak to is available. The informal version is “Is [name] there?”, but for formal calls it’s better to use the following:

 

May I please speak to Daniel in advertising sales?
Caption 9, Business English: Difficulties with coworkers and contracts

 

Sometimes you might want to state the purpose of your call right away, so that the person answering can re-direct your call to someone who can help you.

 

Hi, I'm calling about an apartment that I saw listed on Craig's List?
Caption 33, Jessica and Lizhow much and how many

 

The formal way to conclude a phone conversation might involve thanking the person or setting up a next time to talk. 

 

Have a good day and I'll talk to you soon. 'Bye. -Goodbye.
Caption 56, Business English: Difficulties with coworkers and contracts

 

Of course, between friends, even if they are cartoon characters, much more informal goodbyes are possible: 

 

I'll talk to ya later, Mick. I gotta go.
Caption 32, A Mickey Mouse Cartoon: Goofy's Grandma

 

Further Learning
Watch the business English videos linked above on Yabla English to hear the sentences in the full context of a formal conversation. This helpful webpage provides additional telephone conversations with both audio and a transcription available.

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