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Learn to Speak English Confidently

How To Call in English. 15+ Standard Phrases For Telephone Dialogues

How to talk to someone on the phone

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How to call in English? This question bothers not only people who are just starting their language-learning journey but even fluent English speakers. The reason is simple – sometimes it is hard to talk over the phone, even in your native language. In today’s article, we will tell you how not to be afraid of phone call anxiety and provide the most useful phrases that can become handy in different circumstances. Make yourself comfortable, and let’s dive into this intriguing topic.

Why are we afraid of speaking on the phone in English?

According to the latest research, only in the UK, over 70% of millennials and almost 50% of baby boomers are suffering from phone call anxiety. And they are people who have English as their mother tongue. So before starting to explore the reasons for phone English conversation fear, let’s understand the general reasons for telephone phobia

  1. We can’t see the reaction. While personal conversations allow us not only to hear our interlocutors but also see their gestures, body language, and facial expressions, when talking over the phone, we can only hear the voice and intonations. It might be challenging since it is sometimes hard to understand the context and one’s real emotions when we don’t see that person. 
  2. We are feeling under the gun. Another reason for phone anxiety is the lack of distractions for us and our interlocutors. Again, face-to-face conversations give us more options – we can check on our phone occasionally, look out the window, etc. Phone calls, on the other hand, make us feel like the main focus of our interlocutor. And this feeling might be pretty uncomfortable. 
  3. We can’t stand pauses. We can’t see our interlocutors during conversations over the phone. Therefore, we can’t find a reasonable explanation when we hear silence on the other side of the line. Hence, we start looking for one in ourselves, which brings us even more anxiety and fear. 
  4. We’re not used to it. In the world of FaceTime and online messengers, speaking on the phone feels a little outdated. It is much easier to send a text since we have time to think about our message and find the right words, and the person we are texting also has time to contemplate their answer. That is why many people prefer online chats, and phone calls make them feel anxious. 

These are only a few reasons that explain general phone anxiety. And making a phone call in English might be even more challenging, especially if you are not confident in your conversational skills. In addition to the previous-mentioned reasons, people are afraid of making common speaking mistakes. So how to talk on the phone and remain calm and confident? We’ve prepared plenty of useful tips and tricks that will become handy in your next telephone conversation. Keep reading if you don’t want to miss them all!

How to speak on the phone confidently? Seven best tips

All you need to do to boost your confidence when speaking over the phone is to be prepared. And, of course, we are here to help you with that. Here is our list of the best tips you can use to nail every phone conversation you have. 

  1. Make a plan and rehearse. If you are going to call someone and have particular things you need to discuss, make a brief plan for your conversation. Write down the main topics or even complete sentences you will say. After doing that, read your plan out loud to practice pronunciation. 
  2. Don’t be afraid of the accent. Some people think their foreign accent automatically makes them sound bad at English, especially over the phone. But it is not true! There are millions of people from different countries that have unique accents. So don’t blame yourself if you don’t sound like a native speaker. Instead, focus on grammar and vocabulary. 
  3. Ask for a repeat if you don’t understand something. We always tell you there is nothing wrong with making mistakes or not understanding things. So if this happened to you during the phone call, don’t worry – just ask your interlocutor to repeat what they’ve just said. 
  4. Use online dictionaries. This tip adds to the previous one. You can translate unknown words during your conversation using online translators or dictionaries. And if you don’t know how to write the word, ask the person you are talking to spell it using the International Spelling Alphabet
  5. Choose the right timing. If you don’t want to feel under pressure when calling someone, make sure you’ve chosen the appropriate time for that person. If your conversation is planned in advance, you won’t hear your interlocutor’s annoyance. 
  6. Stay polite. Another important thing for any successful phone call is to be polite. Avoid irrelevant passive-aggressive phrases and control your intonations. It will help you to sound more friendly and, as a result, win over the person you’re talking to. 
  7. Practice listening. This essential skill allows you to understand your interlocutor regardless of their accent, intonations, speech speed, etc. That is why you should practice listening – it is indispensable for phone conversations.

All these tips can help you overcome phone anxiety and feel more confident when talking to someone over the phone. But if you think it’s not enough, we have one more piece of advice for you. Another great way to prepare for the next call is to learn some good phrases for telephone conversations in English. You can use them on different occasions, during formal and informal calls, talking to your friends or business partners. And guess what? You can find the most useful of such phrases below. 

50+ phrases for telephone conversations

Even though more and more people prefer text messages over phone conversations, we still have to call different people for various reasons. So you need to know basic English phrases and sentences when talking to someone over the phone. Let’s explore the most popular options suitable for conversations with your boss and your friend. 

Greetings

Every conversation starts with greetings. And there are various ways to greet someone over the phone, depending on different circumstances. Here are some of the most common and easy English sentences you can use.

  • Hi, it’s… 

This is the informal greeting suitable for incoming and outgoing calls. The first thing you can do at the beginning of your phone conversation is to introduce yourself. It will help the person you are communicating with understand who they are talking to, and if someone calls you, they will know whether they reached the right person. For example:

I: Hi, it’s Joseph. 

O: Hi, Joe, it’s Kate! Do you remember our plans today?

  • Hello, this is … speaking. 

This sentence is the more formal version of the previous one. This is how you can introduce yourself during business conversations over the phone. In this case, you can say your name and the name of the company you are working at. The phrase is also suitable for ingoing and outgoing calls. For example: 

Q: Hello, this is Joseph speaking./Hello, this is Joseph from JSP Solutions. 

A: Hi, thank you for your call. 

  • May I speak with…?

If you are the one who is making a call, the first thing you need to do after the introduction is to make sure that you’ve reached the right person. This phrase for phone English conversation would be perfect in such circumstances. For example: 

Q: Hello, this is Joseph Smith from JPS Solutions. May I speak with Doctor Marshall?

A: It’s Doctor Marshall. How can I help you?

  • Is it convenient for you to talk?

Another polite question you have to ask when talking to someone over the phone. If your call wasn’t scheduled in advance, but you still have some business to discuss with your interlocutor, ensure it is the right time. And this phrase would be a perfect way to ask that. For example:

Q: Hello, this is John. Is it convenient for you to talk right now?

A: I’m out of the office right now. Would you mind calling me back later, please?

  • May I ask who’s calling, please?

When you don’t know who’s calling you, and your interlocutor didn’t introduce themselves, you can use this phrase to politely find out who you are talking to. This simple question can be helpful when someone’s trying to reach another person through you. For example:

Q: Hello! Can I talk to Mr. Louise? 

A: May I ask who’s calling, please?

Leaving and taking a message

When we can’t reach the person we are trying to call, we can leave a message for them. There are two options: pass the message through the person you were talking to or leave it in the voicemail. Let’s discuss some of the most common phrases. 

  • Would you like to leave a message?/May I take the message for him/her? 

This phrase is suitable for the situation we’ve mentioned above. You can use it when the caller is trying to reach someone unavailable. For example: 

Q: Hi, it’s Johnathan. Can I talk to Jane, please?

A: She is out of the office right now. Would you like to leave a message? 

  • May I leave a message? 

If your interlocutor didn’t offer you to leave a message, but you need to leave one, you can ask about it yourself. For example:

Q: Hello. Can I speak to Samantha, please?

A: I’m afraid she’s already left. 

Q: Oh, that’s too bad. May I leave a message for her?

  • I’ll let them know you’ve called./I’ll pass your message. 

After the person leaves the message, make sure you will pass it on to the other person as soon as possible. And these phrases would be the most suitable option. For example:

Q: Can you tell Samantha John called her? She can reach me at /number/.

A: Sure! I’ll let her know you’ve called. 

Wrong number

We are people, and we make mistakes. And every so often, there are situations when we accidentally call the wrong number. So what should you say in such cases? Here are a few widespread examples.

  • Sorry, I must’ve dialed the wrong number. 

If you’ve accidentally called the wrong number, just apologize and say you’ve made a mistake. This phrase will be the best way to do it. For example: 

Q: Hi, it’s John. Can I talk to Sarah?

A: I’m sorry, we don’t have any Sarahs here. 

Q: Sorry, I must’ve dialed the wrong number. 

  • What number are you calling?/Sorry, you must have the wrong number. 

This phrase is suitable when you receive a call from a person who has been trying to reach someone else (and someone you don’t know). For example: 

Q: Hi, Jane! I have been trying to reach you since last night. 

A: Sorry, you must have got the wrong number.

Little more common phrases

In addition to general phrases you’ve just read, we want to provide you with some more useful sentences. You can say them in different circumstances – for example, when you don’t understand your interlocutor. Here is a list of common phrases that can be helpful in your next phone conversation. 

  • Hold on, let me get a paper. Use this phrase if you need to write down something but need time to grab the required utensils. 
  • Sorry, I didn’t quite understand that. This phrase will come in handy when you don’t understand your interlocutor. 
  • Come again? More informal way to ask the person you are talking with to repeat what they’ve said. 
  • Hold on one second, please. Another polite way to ask your interlocutor to wait when you require some time. 
  • I’m sorry, I can’t hear you. Next time you have a bad line during your phone conversation, you might need this phrase. 
  • Could you please spell that for me? We already mentioned the International Spelling Alphabet earlier. So if you don’t understand the word, ask your interlocutor to spell it using this phrase. 

Of course, there are many more phrases and sentences that can be useful during phone conversations. But the ones mentioned in this article are the most common and easy to understand and remember. After learning them, you will easily deal with unexpected calls from your English-speaking friends or colleagues. 

How to make a phone call in English? Promova knows the answer!

Even though phone calls can be stressful, they won’t be trouble for you if you are prepared. And we know the best solution to overcome your English phone call anxiety. Promova is an online language-learning platform with plenty of options for students with different needs. 

As we’ve said earlier, speaking is the key skill you require for a successful phone conversation. And Promova knows how to help you master it in the shortest terms. Our team of professional tutors is always ready to help everyone whose goal is to become fluent in English. You can join personal lessons if you prefer to study alone or become a part of the group classes to learn English in a company. 

And if you want to practice by yourself, say no more! Install a convenient Promova app on your iOS or Android gadget and enjoy numerous lessons, exercises, and much more. The application will help you to understand how to talk on the phone in English and provide you with much more helpful information on different topics. Visit the Promova website now, and you will be surprised by the results very soon.

Conclusion

Congratulations! Now you know how to answer a phone call in English and pass a message, apologize for calling a wrong number, and much more. Hence, we hope it will be less challenging to pick up the phone next time someone calls you to discuss important things in English. Thank you for your attention today, and please – share your phone phrases in the comments section. We will be happy to know how your voicemail sounds.

FAQ

Why are some people afraid of speaking on the phone in English?

Social anxiety and telephone phobia are the main reasons that cause fear of making a call in English or any other language. Other reasons include fear of being judged, the inability to see the person, awkward silence and pauses, and much more. Moreover, most people nowadays are used to talking via text messages, and phone calls can be stressful. 

How to talk to someone on the phone and stay confident?

The best way to achieve it is to prepare for the call in advance. Try to plan your conversation (if you know what it will be about). Write down some sentences you can use during the call, and read them out loud before talking to your interlocutor. You can also learn some common phrases to keep up the conversation.

What is the difference between formal and informal phone calls?

The difference is pretty obvious. In layman’s terms, you must speak the formal English language during formal conversations, and vice versa. Informal conversations allow you to talk freely and use colloquial language, slang terms, and much more. This type is suitable for communicating with friends, family members, or just people you know well. On the other hand, formal calls require you to speak more politely and discreetly. 

What are the best ways to start a phone conversation in English?

The first thing you need to do is to greet your interlocutor and introduce yourself. If someone is calling you, you can say who they’ve reached. When making an outgoing call, say your name first. After that, ask if it is convenient for your interlocutor to talk to you and start your conversation. If you haven’t reached the person you need, leave a message for them. 4

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