Phone Conversation in English - Detailed Explanation

conversation spoken english practice Sep 15, 2021
Phone Conversation in English

We use different language (vocabulary, phrases and phrasal verbs) when we’re speaking on the phone from the language we speak when we’re face-to-face with someone.  There are English phrases for speaking on the phone like ‘to be breaking up’ ‘to hang up’ or ‘to be put on hold,’ that we wouldn’t use in any other context.  


Why Is Important to Know How To Speak on The Phone in English 

Knowing how to speak on the phone in English is important for multiple reasons.  The most important reason is to sound professional and polite on a phone call.  The second most important reason is to understand other people when you speak to them on the phone.


There’s bound to be a time when you will need to speak English on the phone.  Follow our tips, learn some useful phrases for phone conversations and practice speaking on the phone so you can feel confident the next time you speak to someone on the phone in English.  


How to Talk on The Phone in English Using English Phrases 

There are plenty of set phrases that you can learn to speak English over the phone.  The context of the phone call will determine the type of language you use.  For example, the phrases you use with your friends will be very different from the phrases you use with your boss or in a professional setting.  Fortunately, there are English phrases for every type of conversation.


Best Telephone English Phrases

These are the best telephone English phrases you must know if you’re going to make a phone call in English.  We suggest practicing these phrases over and over again.  Practice makes perfect.  Luckily, phone conversation phrases are easy to practice and reuse in most contexts.  

How To Answer The Phone In English

The first step when making a phone call or answering a phone call is to use an appropriate greeting in English.


“Hello.  Mary speaking.  How can I help you?”

“Good morning/good afternoon/good evening.  This is Michelle.  How can I help you?”

“Hello.  You’ve reached English-Everyday.  How may I help you?”



How To Introduce Yourself On The Phone 

Introducing yourself over the phone is different from introducing yourself in person.  In person, we would say ‘hello, I am Jessica,’ however, we use different introductory phrases over the phone.  We don’t need to introduce ourselves; we need to identify ourselves.  So ‘I am’ changes to ‘it is…’ or ‘this is…’


“Hello.  This is Sarah.”

“Hi.  It’s Mark.”


If it’s a very formal introduction then you could say:


“Hello.  My name is Paul.”


Or if you’re phoning someone for another person say:

“Hello.  I’m phoning on behalf of Mrs Miller.  This is Sally.”


How To Ask For Someone’s Name 

If the person phoning you doesn’t give you a name right away then you can ask for their name by saying:


“Hi, this is Jim.  May I ask who’s calling?”

“Hello.  May I know who this is?

“Hello. This is Mike.  Could you please tell me who this is?”

“Hello.  Could you please tell me who is calling?”

“Hi, this is Harry.  Could you please tell me who’s speaking?”


It’s important to use polite modal verbs when asking questions like this on the phone.  Asking someone ‘who is this?’ or ‘who is calling?’ can come across as rude or impatient.  


How To Tell Someone Why You Are Calling

If we are making the phone call then we need to tell the person on the other side of the line why we are calling.


Could I please speak to Steve?”

“I’m calling for John. Is he available?”

“I would like to speak with David.  Is he in?”

“Could I please speak with whoever deals with the accounts?”

“May I speak to Johnathan.”

“I’m calling to find out about…”


How To Put Someone On Hold 

There are times when we need to ask the person on the phone to wait while we forward them through to someone else or look for information.  


“Please hold.”

“Would you mind holding for a minute while I check?”

“I’ll forward you through.  Please hold on.”

“Please wait while I put you through.”

One moment please.”


How To Transfer Someone

If you need to put someone through to someone else on the phone in English then you can say:


“I’ll put you through.”

“One moment.  Please stay on the line.”

“Let me see if he’s available and, if he is, I’ll put you through.”

“Thank you for holding.  He’s available.  I’ll forward you on.”

“Please hold the line while I transfer you.”

“OK.  Let me connect you.”



How To Answer The Phone After Putting Someone On Hold

And once we have finished our task and want to return to the person on the phone we can say:


“Thank you for holding.”

“Thank you for your patience.”

“Thank you for waiting.”

How To Tell Someone The Person Is Not Available

In some cases, the person the caller wants to speak to won’t be available.  Perhaps they’re in a meeting, out of the office or otherwise engaged.


“I’m afraid he’s not in at the moment.  May I take a message?”

“Unfortunately he’s on another call again.  Shall I get him to call you back?”

“I’m sorry.  He isn’t available at the moment.  He shouldn’t be long. Would you like to hold or call back later?”

“Sorry, he’s otherwise engaged right now.  Would you like to leave a message?”


How To Leave A Message For Someone

You can choose whether you would like to leave a message or call back later.  


“Could you please tell him Ryan called?  My number is…”

“No thanks.  I’ll call back later.

“Thanks for your help.  I’ll send him an email.”

“It’s his mom.  Could you ask him to ring me when he gets the chance?”

“Just tell him that Matthew is free all day tomorrow for a meeting.  Please get him to call me to confirm a time.”


How To Ask Someone To Repeat Themselves

The connection when we speak to someone on the phone can get interrupted.  When this happens, don’t be afraid to ask the other person to repeat themselves - just do it politely.


“Sorry, you’re breaking up a bit.  Could you please say that again?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that.  Please say it again.”

“Could you spell that for me please?”

“Could you repeat that please?”

“Could you speak a little louder please?”

“The line is very bad.  Could I call you back?”


What is English Everyday

English-Everyday is an English course with live lessons for English learners who want to improve their English with native speakers, professional teachers, and students from around the world


You have live lessons where you can join every day. You can review all record lessons. There is a calendar of scheduled lessons so you can see when lessons are and at what time you can join.


In English Everyday program, you have support and also you have student chat where you can speak with other students from all around the world. You can look at our feedback page so that you can know from which countries our students are. Before you join our program, we strongly recommend you sign up for our free seminar with Kris Amerikos, where you can learn:


  • What goals you need to have to get better results 
  • How to become fluent in English very quickly
  • What you need to do to have perfect pronunciation
  • The 3 biggest mistakes you need to avoid
  • Which free resources will help you learn English
  • The best resource to use to improve your speaking 


How to Start Conversation on Phone in English

It can be awkward to start a conversation over the phone because you have to initiate the conversation without being able to see body language or read facial expressions.  


You should start with a formal greeting like:


Good morning/good afternoon/good evening.

(Company name) hello.


Then introduce yourself:

It’s _____

This is ______

My name is ______


And then move on to the reason you called:

I’d like to speak to ______

I’m calling to find out about ______

I’m just calling to ask about _______


Sample Phone Conversation in English

Person 1: “Kris Amerikos.  Hello.  How can I help you?”

Person 2: “Good morning.  My name is Rebecca.  I’d like to speak to Mr Smith.”

Person 1: “One moment please.  I’ll see if he’s available.”

Person 1: “Sorry to keep you waiting.”

Person 2: “That’s fine.”

Person 1: “He’s available.  Please hold the line while I put you through.”

Person 2: “Great.  Thank you so much.”


Person 1: “Hello.  This is Natalie.”

Person 2: “Hello Natalie.  Could I please speak to Philip?”

Person 1: “Sure.  May I ask who is calling?”

Person 2: “Tell him it’s Paul from work.”

Person 1: “OK.  Please he is.”

Person 2: “Thank you.”


Person 1: “Hello.  This is Claire.  How may I assist you?”

Person 2: “Hi.  It’s Samantha.  Is Harry available?”

Person 1: “I’m afraid not.  Could I take a message and have him call you back?”

Person 2: “Sure.  Please tell him Samantha called.”

Person 1: “OK.  I will.  What’s your number?”

Person 2: “It’s 00 7783225”

Person 1: “Great.  I’ll get him to call you.”

Person 2: “Thank you so much.  Bye.’

Person 1: “Have a great day!”


Conversation Between Two Friends in English on The Phone

As with every situation in English, when you’re speaking with your friends you don’t need to be formal.  There is no need to introduce yourselves because you’ll know who the person is either by the sound of their voice or because you have their number saved in your phone already.  The conversation will move quite quickly from greetings into the reason for the call without as much polite language as a formal phone conversation.  

Person 1: “Hey man.  How’s it going?”

Person 2: “Hey, hey.  It’s going good.  How are things with you?”

Person 1: “Yeah, they’re good.  Do you have a minute?”

Person 2: “Sure.  What’s up?”

Person 1: “I just wanted to what you’re up to tonight? We’re going to dinner and thought you might like to join.”

Person 2: “Sounds good.  Text me the restaurant and I’ll meet you there.”

Person 1: “Cool.  We’re going around 7.”

Person 2: “Great.  See you then.”

Person 1: “Cheers.”


Official Conversation in English on The Phone

An official phone conversation can be daunting - even for native English speakers.  The best advice you should listen to is to practice phrases for official conversations in English on the phone.  The more you practice the phrases, the easier the phone call will be for you to make. 


Keep your language formal at all times.  Use formal greetings like ‘hello’ and ‘good morning/good afternoon/good evening,’ use modal verbs to form polite questions like ‘could I please speak to…?’ ‘May I speak to…?’ ‘Would you be able to help me?’ and always say ‘please,’ and ‘thank you.’  It’s also important to end the call well.  If someone has helped you then say ‘thank you so much for your help.  Have a great day.’


Office Phone Conversation in English

If you’re working in an office then your phone conversations must be professional.  Phone conversations at the office should be as formal as official phone conversations.  We can use the same phrases as we would during an official phone conversation in English.  The phone call usually begins with the receptionist answering the call with ‘hello’ and the company name.  We also usually say things like ‘please hold,’ ‘would you mind waiting a moment?’ ‘one moment please,’ and ‘please hold while I transfer you through,’ when we want to forward the call onto someone else.  We’re more likely to take a message for someone at the office than we are in other situations.  Additional phrases like ‘may I take a message?’ ‘would you like me to get her to call you?’ ‘would you like to hold or call back later?’   and ‘shall I tell her you called?’ form part of office phone conversations. 


Formal Phone Conversation in English

The language that we use during a formal phone conversation in English is different from the language that we use when speaking face-to-face.  Phone conversations in English are quite formal - especially when we’re speaking to someone on a professional basis or when we phone a company for assistance. 


Rules for formal phone conversations in English:

  • Always introduce yourself formally;
  • Always say please and thank you whenever you make a request;
  • Always use modal verbs and indirect questions (may I...could I...Would you mind....Could I please…)


And remember, when you’re speaking to someone on the phone, don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat themselves, but don’t say ‘what?’  Instead, say something like ‘I didn’t hear that. Sorry.  Would you mind repeating it?’  If you feel overwhelmed, tell the other person that you’re not very good at English and say ‘sorry, my English is not very good.  Would you mind slowing down a bit?’


Finally, master these phrases and practice making phone calls to improve your spoken English and build your confidence when speaking English.