Hello, It’s Me: Phrases for Talking on the Phone

One of the skills that will definitely be useful for mastering while learning the English language is how to talk on the phone.  Whether you are having a job interview in English over the phone, want to book a room in a hotel in another country, or you’ve just met some foreign friends and want to chat with them on the phone – you need to learn how to properly communicate over the phone.

The telephone conversation might be perceived by some people as a difficult mode of expressing oneself since there are no visual clues that can help you interpret a certain message.  Therefore, you need to be able to clearly express yourself.

In addition to that, you need to be aware what level of formality you should use in which situation in order to make the conversational situation comfortable.

You definitely don’t want to be misunderstood, so by using the right phrases, your message will clearly get across.  To help you ease this process, here are some phrases that will be useful during a phone conversation.

Introducing yourself and making contact

When making a phone call, the first thing you need to do is to introduce yourself so that the person on the other end of the line knows who is calling.  If the person you wanted to reach didn’t answer the phone, the next thing to do is to say who you would like to talk to.

When introducing yourself and making contact, here are some more formal phrases to help you:

  • This is (your name) speaking.
  • (your name) speaking.
  • I would like to speak to (person’s name), please.
  • Could I speak to (person’s name)?
  • Is (person’s name) available?
  • I need to speak to (person’s name).
  • I am trying to contact (person’s name).

And some that are informal:

  • Hello, it’s (your name).
  • Is (person’s name) there?
  • Can I talk to (person’s name)?

Here is an example of a beginning of a telephone conversation:

“Good afternoon, Floral ltd. How may I help you?”
“Good afternoon.  This is John speaking.  I would like to speak to Maria Johnson.”

Stating the purpose of your call

After you’ve introduced yourself and stated who you wish to talk to, the next step is to say what is the purpose of your call, that is, to give more information as to why you are calling – whether it is ask for certain information, to arrange a meeting, make a reservation or just chat with someone.

You can use one of the following phrases to state the purpose of your call:

  • I am calling about…
  • The reason I am calling is…
  • I am calling from (a place, a company).

The phrases stated above are mostly used in a formal or business conversation.  If your call is more of an informal tone, you can say:

  • I’m here at (a place) and I would really use your help.

Here is also one example of this part of the conversation:

“The reason I am calling is to see if it is possible to arrange a meeting with you.”
“All right.  What day suits you?”

If you are, for example, calling a hotel, or a restaurant, you may state your purpose in the following way:

  • I would like to make a reservation, please.

Being asked to hold and being transferred

You might be asked to wait to speak to the person you asked for, or you might be transferred to another line.  In such cases, the person on the other side of the line might say one of these phrases:

  • Hold the line please.
  • Could you hold on please?
  • I will put you through.

If the conversation is more informal, you will probably hear one of these phrases:

  • Hold on just one second.
  • I will get (person’s name) for you.

Example of this part of the conversation:

“I would like to speak to Mr.  Samuel.”
“Hold the line please, I will put you through.”

Not understanding

In case you didn’t hear well or you didn’t understand what has just been said, it is possible to say:

  • Could you repeat that?
  • I am sorry, I can’t hear you very well.
  • The connection is bad, I am afraid I don’t understand you.
  • Can you speak more slowly, please?

Leaving a message

If the person you are calling is not available at the moment, you might want to leave a message to let that person know you’ve tried to contact them.  You can do that in one of the following ways:

  • Can I leave a message?
  • Could you ask (person’s name) to call me back?
  • Please tell (person’s name) I called.
  • Can I leave my phone number?

Example of the part of the conversation when you leave a message:

“I’m sorry, Mr.  Williams is not available at the moment.”
“Can I leave a message?”
“Of course.”
“Could you ask Mr.  Williams to call me back as soon ass possible?”
“All right.”


When it comes to ending a telephone conversation, here are some phrases that you can use:

  • Thank you for your time.
  • It was a pleasure talking to you.
  • Have a nice day.

Or end with phrases that are more informal, such as:

  • “Talk to you soon.”
  • “See you soon.”
  • “I better run.  Buy!”

It is important to speak clearly when making a phone call so that the conversation would flow easily.  If you are making an important phone call and you are afraid you will forget what you need to say, write it down – that will give you more confidence.