Business English

Basic Telephoning Language

Practise speaking by describing this image

warm up

  • How often do you use a phone for business or private calls on a regular day?
  • How many of these calls are in English?
  • Do you prefer to make calls or write emails?


Find the odd one out.

Each toggle contains some telephoning language. Read and listen to these expressions. There is one expression that is not appropriate for the business context. Can you guess which one it is?

answering the phone
  • Hello, Jill Smith speaking.
  • Good morning, Top Sports Ltd.
  • Yo, who’s there?
  • Good afternoon, purchasing department, Angela Bree speaking. How can I help you?
making contact
  • I’d like to speak to Karol Wanat.
  • Push me through to your boss now.
  • Can you put me through to Mr Duckworth?
  • Could I have Marketing Department, please?
Identifying yourself
  • This is Bruce White.
  • My name’s Robert Went.
  • It’s me, don’t you recognise me?
  • It’s Bob here.
Making excuses
  • I’m sorry, he’s in a meeting.
  • I’m afraid she’s not available.
  • I’m terribly sorry, but he won’t be able to talk to you right now.
  • Stop calling him, he doesn’t want to talk to you.
Stating your purpose
  • Why haven’t you paid me yet?
  • I’m calling about your invoice.
  • I’m returning his call.
  • The reason I’m calling is that I haven’t received the money yet.
Checking understanding
  • Could you spell that?

  • Can I ask you to repeat the surname, please?
  • I didn’t get that, why can’t you speak clearly?
  • Can I read that back to you?

Asking for information
  • Could I have your name?
  • May I have your name, sir?
  • Can I take your number?
  • And your name again?
Promising action
  • I’ll make sure he gets the message.
  • I’ll pass your message to him.
  • I’ll tell her when she gets back.
  • I’ll tell him, OK, don’t sweat it.
Ending a call
  • Thank you. Goodbye.
  • Thanks for calling.
  • That’s it. I need to finish now.
  • Is there anything else?




Time for a little test. Do you remember the exact words which were used in the following telephoning expressions?

Score more than 60% and get a beautiful certificate.

Ready. Steady. GO!

1.A: Hello, Jill Smith .
B: Hi, Jill. It's Bob here. Do you have a second?
2.A: Can you put me to Mr Duckworth?
B: Sure, no problem.
3.A: is Bruce White.
B. Hi, Bruce, it's Sarah here.
4.A: I’m calling your invoice.
B: Yes, is there something wrong with it?
5.A: Can I speak to Mr Nichols, please?
B: I’m afraid she’s not .
6.A: May I have your , sir?
B: Of course, it's Walters, Josh Walters.
7.A: The account number is PL5899 0000 2338 1284
B: Can I read that to you?
8.A: Could you tell him that Mr Rogers needs to speak to him urgently?
B: I’ll make he gets the message.
9.A: Is there anything I could help you with?
B: No, thanks, that's all.
10.A: Is Ms Grisham in the office today?
B: Yes, she is, but she’s in a now.



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