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Opening a call

Identifying yourself

This/it is Mark Harris from Will’s Plc.


Explaining the reason for the call

I'm calling about...

I have a question about...

I wanted to ask about...

Getting through to the right person

Asking for the person

Could I speak to James Cassidy, please?

Is Mr. Cassidy there, please?

Could you put me through to your legal department, please?

Listen, Steve, I'm actually trying to get through to Paula. Is she there at the moment?


When the person isn't available

Oh, that's a pity. I'll try calling later.

Can I leave a message for him/her?

Could you ask him/her to call me back, please?

Taking a call

Identifying yourself

Somerset and partners. James speaking. How can I help you?

So, what can I do for you?


Transferring a call

Can I just ask what it's about?

Can you hold on a moment, please?

Can you hold the line, please?

I'll put you through.

I'm connecting you now.

The line's (still) busy (Am Eng)/engaged (Br.Eng).

Would you like to wait, or shall I ask him/her to call you back?

I'm afraid his/her line is engaged (busy).

Shall I give you his/her extension number?


When the other person isn't available

I'm afraid Ms Thomson is unavailable at the moment.

She's on another line/in a meeting/on a business trip.

I'm sorry, but Mr. Harris isn't in the office today.

Can I take a message?

Would you like to leave a message for her/him?

Would you like to call back later?

Calling someone back

Sorry, I'm really busy at the moment. Can I call you back later today/in ten minutes?

I'm actually talking to someone on the other line.

I think I've got your number, but can you give it to me again just in case?

Returning a call

I'm just returning your call from yesterday.

You left a message on my answering machine.

Ending the call

Thank you very much. - You're welcome.

Just let me know if there's anything else I can do for you. - I’ll do that.

Speak to you later. - Goodbye.

Communication problems

I didn't catch that (last part).

Could you repeat that, please?

Can you speak up a bit, please?

Could you speak a little bit more slowly, please?

Could you spell that for me, please?

This is a really bad line.

Sorry, we got cut off... Anyway, as I was saying…


Taking a message

Can I take a message?

Does (s)he have your number?

I'll tell him/her you’ve called.

Shall I ask him/her to call you back?

I'll make sure he/she gets your message.


Checking the message

Let me just read that back to you.

Let me just make sure that I got that right.

You'd like to know if...

Was that M for Michael or N for Nancy?

Sorry, did you say 42 04 or 42 14?

Sorry, what was the post code again?


Leaving a message

Could you ask him/her to call me back?

My name is John Ellis. I'm calling from James Brown and my number is...

Mobile phones

Where are you?

I 'm on the train.

I 'm actually in the office. You can call me on my land line.

I'm afraid I'm in a meeting at the moment. Can I call you later?

Have you got a couple of minutes?

My battery's low - we might get cut off, I’m afraid.

Sorry, you're breaking up (a little).

Listen, I think I'm losing the connection. I’d better go.

Making arrangements

Suggesting a meeting

Do you have time to meet next week?

I was wondering if you might have time to meet next week.

It would give us a chance to talk about…


Suggesting times and places

When would suit you?

Where would you like to meet?

Would Monday be OK for you?

How about Wednesday morning?

Shall we say 10 o'c1ock in my office?


Reacting to suggestions

I just need to check my diary.

I think that should be possible.

Tuesday's bad for me. I'm afraid.

I'm tied up all day.

Yes, that would be good for me.


Confirming an arrangement

OK, so I'll see you Wednesday then.

So that's Monday at 10 a.m. at your office.


Changing arrangements

I'm calling about our meeting tomorrow.

I'm afraid something has come up.

One of my clients has cancelled/brought forward our appointment.

The meeting lasted longer than I expected.

I wanted to ask you if we could meet a bit earlier/postpone/put off our meeting.

I was wondering if we could reschedule our appointment.

Would it be possible to meet a bit later?


When you are late for an appointment

I'm afraid my meeting has taken longer than I expected.

I might be a few minutes late.

I should be there by 3 at the latest.


Making a complaint

Are you the right person to talk to?

There appears to be a small problem with the documents.

There appears to be a mistake on the contract you’ve sent to us.

You seem to have forgotten the attachment.

Clarifying the problem

What is the problem exactly?

Could you explain the problem in more detail?



I'm very/extremely sorry about that.

Please accept my apologies.

That's entirely our fault.

There must have been a mix-up.


Taking action

It's good that you've brought this problem to my attention.

This is what I'll do.

I'll make sure it gets sorted out straight away.

Let me put you through to our legal department. They'll sort it out for you.

Reaching agreements

Making proposals

I wanted to make a suggestion.

I have an idea.

What do you think?

How does that sound?



Sorry, can I interrupt you there?

Yes, yes, but can I just say something?

Well yes, that may be true, but...

Can I just come in here?

Can I just stop you there?


Reacting to proposals

That sounds feasible/very reasonable.

We could probably work with that.

That depends. /That's difficult to say.

I don't think that would be possible.

I think we have a certain amount of room to maneuver, but I would have to check with my superior first.



Exercise 1.

Put the words into the correct order to make phrases that are frequently used in telephone conversations.

1. Have/meeting/something/I/to/up/has/our/cancel/come/so/afraid/I’m.

2. The/losing/listen/connection/I’m.

3. If/have/wondering/meet/to/time/was/I/you/week/might/next.

4. Last/didn’t/sorry/I/part/the/catch/you/please/repeat/could?

5. I/sure/let/got/make/right/me/that/just/that.

6. But/I’ve/you/it/can/I/your/got/think/number/give/to/again/me/case/in/just?

7. Entirely/I’m/sure/not/I/can/you/to/back/on/get/that?

8. You/like/wait/to/would/I/ask/to/you/back/call/shall/or/him?

9. Call/yesterday/returning/from/your/I’m/just.

10. Please/up/a bit/you/speak/could?

Exercise 2.

Read a short extract paying special attention to the words in bold. Then fill in the gaps with these words in the sentences below.

If you want to call somebody in a company, you pick up the phone and hearing the dialing tone you start to dial the number on the keypad. If you don’t know the person’s direct line number, you may dial the number of the company’s switchboard. Then one of the following things may happen:

· The number rings but there is no answer.

· You hear the engaged tone because the person is already talking on the phone. In this case you’d better hang up and try again later.

· You get through but not to the number you wanted. The person on the other side of the line usually says that you have dialed the wrong number.

· The operator answers, you ask for the extensionof the person you want to speak to.

· You are put through to the wrong extension. The person offers to transfer you to the right extension, but you are cut off – the call ends.

· The person you want to speak to is not at the desk and you leave a message on the voicemail. You ask him to call you back or to return your call.


1. Call me at the office tomorrow. My __________ line is 8495 784562134. If I’m not there, leave a ___________ on my ____________ and I’ll call you ________ when I get it.

2. All international lines are __________. Please ____________ up and try again later.

3. ‘Could I speak to Ms Wells, please?’ – “Oh, I’m sorry. She is not on this __________ ; she is on 345. I’ll put you through to the main _____________. Just ask the ___________ to transfer you to the Legal Department.

4. “Good morning. Theatre ticket hotline. How can I help you?” – “Oh, I think I have dialed the ______________.

5. Hello, could you check a number for me? I was talking to someone there but I was ___________ off. When I’m calling, I just get the __________ tone.

6. “Could you help me to make a phone call to Germany, please?” – “Certainly, sir. Just ________ up the phone and _________ 9 to get a line. When you hear the __________ tone, dial 00 33 and then the number you want in Germany’.

7. This is Credit Card helpline. To check your balance, please press 1 on your _________. To make a payment press 2.

8. I got your message yesterday but I was too busy to _________ your call. I’ll call ______ later, when you are at your desk.

Exercise 3.

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