How to talk on the phone in English

Modern technology offers you a variety of practical tools (chat, video, email, etc.) to communicate instantly with anyone in the world. And best of all, for free. 

This doesn’t mean that phone calls have become any less important.

Making phone calls in English is a real challenge. You have to resolve the situation fluently and immediately. Sometimes the sound can be bad, increasing the level of difficulty.

When you’re talking to someone face to face, you can use gestures or look up words in a dictionary. When you’re chatting, you can use an online translator for simultaneous translation.

If you prepare in advance, you’ll have no major difficulties and will achieve your goal. 

In this lesson, you’ll learn which expressions are most frequently used when having a phone conversation in English. You’ll soon realise that it’s not that complicated. 

Are you ready?




How to answer a phone call in English

When we answer the phone we usually say, “Hello”.

But if you work in an office, the greeting should be more formal. In general, you should first provide the name of the company then your name and a courteous phrase, for example:

– ABA English Corporation. This is Jenny speaking. How can I help you?

– Good morning. This is John speaking. May I help you?

– Hello? This is ABA English. How may I help you?



Asking for someone

– Good morning. Could I speak to Susan, please?

– Hello. I’d like to speak to Mr Johnson, please.

  • If you’re calling someone you know, you could use more informal language:

– Is Patricia in?

– Hello. It’s Lilly. Is Jessica in?

– Hi. This is Tom. Is Patricia there?

  • If the person is unavailable, you can say:

– I’m sorry. She’s not available at the moment.


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Putting someone on hold or transferring the call

Have you ever been put on hold? You call a company and have to listen to a song or an ad. Then they answer just to say, “Stay on the line while we solve your problem” or “Our operators are busy. Please wait for a few more minutes”.

No one likes to wait, right? But we’re going to learn how to say it.

  • If it’s an informal call, you can just say:

– Hold on.

– Hold on a sec.

– Hold on a minute, please.

  • If you’re calling a company, you’ll hear more formal language:

– One moment, please.

– Could you please hold on a minute?

– Thank you for holding.

  • If the call needs to be transferred to another extension, you should use the expression put through (transfer)

– Let me put you through.

– One moment. I’ll transfer your call.


Remember that what you shouldn’t put on hold is your goal of learning a second language. At ABA English, we offer you a complete online English program with fun lessons that will allow you to achieve your dream of speaking English fluently.



Excuse me, I don’t understand

Maybe the other person is speaking too quickly or there is poor sound quality. If this is the case, we recommend the following expressions:

– Excuse me, I don’t understand.

– Could you repeat that please?

– I’m sorry. Could you speak up, please?

– Could you speak more slowly, please?


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Leave a message

Perhaps the person you want to talk to isn’t available. If so, you can leave a message and ask them to call you back.

– I’m sorry. She’s not available at the moment. Would you like to leave a message?

– Please tell her that I called.

– Please tell her I’ll call back later.

– Please tell her to call me back.




You survived and managed to have a phone conversation. All that remains is to say goodbye. You can use the following phrases to do so:

– Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Thank you for calling.

Thanks for your help.




Are you ready to have a phone conversation? Well, at least now you have the tools to practice. Let’s look at a couple of examples. Look at the differences between formal and informal conversations.

Example English phone call conversation (formal)

A: ABA English Corporation. This is Jane speaking. How can I help you?

B: Good morning. Could I speak to Frank, please?

A: I’m sorry. He’s not available at the moment. Would you like to leave a message?

B: Yes, please. Tell him I’ll call back later.

A: Okay. I’ll give him the message. Is there anything else I can help you with?

B: No. Thanks for your help.

A: You’re welcome. Have a nice day.



Example English phone call conversation (informal)

A: Hello?

B: Hi. It’s Steve. Is John there?

A: Hey Steve. Hold on a sec…I’m sorry, he’s gone. Would you like to leave a message?

B: Yeah. Just tell him that I called.

A: Sure. I’ll let him know.

B: Thanks a lot.

A: You’re welcome, mate. Talk to you later.

B: OK. Bye.



On your next phone call (or video chat), you might make a few mistakes or not understand everything you’re told. It doesn’t matter. Remember that practice makes perfect. 

Stay connected with the ABA English blog to learn more practical and fun lessons. We’d also like to invite you to download the app so that you can study from the comfort of your mobile.

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One comment

  1. Hello Malika! You can join ABA Free here:

    Welcome to our community!

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