Talking to someone on the phone

"Hello? Who is speaking?" That's what you might be hearing from the other side of the line when a phone call is commenced in English. A non-native speaker might quickly start stuttering and lose himself in intricate explanations and paraphrases during the conversation.
In the following, some helpful exemplary dialogues as well as basic idioms for phone calls are given.


Calling friends

call a friend
Mary is calling her friend Michael. Since he's not home, his brother Tom is answering the phone.
Hello, Tom speaking.
Hi Tom, this is Mary. Is your brother in?
No, he’s at the cinema. Can I take a message?
Yes, could you tell him to call me back, please?
Thanks. Bye.

Making a business call

business telephone call
Gerhard Maier is calling Mr. Brown's office. Since he's not in, Robert Smith is answering the call.
Good morning. Robert Smith speaking.
Good morning. This is Gerhard Maier. I would like to speak to Mr. Brown.
Oh, sorry. Mr. Brown is not here, yet.
Can you tell me when he will be in?
Probably around 4 pm.
Alright, I will call again later then. Thank you.
You’re welcome. Bye.

Additional helpful phrases

General phrases

Who is speaking, please?
Who would you like to speak to?
What number did you dial?
Oh sorry, I think I’ve dialled the wrong number.
Can I speak to Mr. X's assistant, please?
I would like to speak to somebody about…
The call is very urgent.
Could you ask Mr. X to call me back?
Could you call me back again tomorrow morning?
What is your phone number?
Just a moment, please!
Hold the line, please!

Making an emergency call

It’s an emergency!
I’ve been injured.
There has been an accident.
I need your help. Please come to …

Difficulties of understanding

Could you speak up, please?
I didn't understand what you just said.
Please speak more slowly.
Could you please repeat that?
I'm sorry, I don't speak …
Do you speak German?
Can you hear me clearly?
Could you spell that, please?
Please say each number separately.
You can find further important phrases for talking on the phone as well as useful tips for preparing a phone call in the Short Guide Telephoning of the University of Leipzig.

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