Telephone English - Important Phrases
There are a number of phrases and idioms that are only used when telephoning. Let's first take a look at an example dialogue: Here are the most common:
; Operator: Hello, Coco’s Pharmaceutical
Company. How can I help you?
; Peter: This is Peter Jackson. Can I have
extension 3421 please?
; Operator: Certainly, hold on a minute, I'll
put you through...
; Frank: Bob Peterson's office, Frank
; Peter: This is Peter Jackson calling, is Bob
; Frank: I'm afraid he's out at the moment.
Can I take a message?
; Peter: Yes, Could you ask him to call me
on 01334 870728, Ext 3467. I need to talk
to him about the HuaLan product, it's
; Frank: Could you repeat the number
; Peter: Yes, that's 01334 870728, Ext 3467,
and this is Peter Jackson.
; Frank: Thank you Mr. Jackson, I'll make
sure Bob gets this ASAP.
; Peter: Thanks, bye.
; Frank: Bye.
As you can see, the language is rather informal and there are some important differences to everyday English. Look at the chart below for key language and phrases used in telephone English:
This is Ken.
Asking who is on the telephone:
Excuse me, who is this?
Can I ask who is calling, please?
Asking for Someone
Can I have extension 321? (Extensions are internal
numbers at a company)
Could I speak to...? ( May I - more formal Can I -
Is Jack in? (Informal idiom meaning: Is Jack in the
I'll put you through (put through - phrasal verb
Can you hold the line? Can you hold on a
How to reply when someone is not available
I'm afraid ... is not available at the moment
The line is busy... (when the extension requested is
Mr. Jackson isn't in... Mr. Jackson is out at the
Taking a Message
Could (Can, May) I take a message?
Could (Can, May) I tell him who is calling?
Would you like to leave a message?