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Helen: Midtown Computer Solutions, Helen speaking. How can I help you?

Ryan: Hello, this is Ryan Bardos. May I speak with Natalie Jones, please?

Helen: One moment please – I’ll put you through.

Helen: Mr. Bardos? I’m sorry, Natalie’s in a meeting at the moment. Would you like to leave a message?

Ryan: Yes, could you ask her to call me back as soon as possible? It’s pretty urgent.

Helen: Of course. Does she have your number?

Ryan: She has my office number, but let me also give you my cell – it’s 472-555-8901.

Helen: Let me read that back to you – 472-555-8901.

Ryan: That’s right.

Helen: And could you spell your last name for me?

Ryan: B as in Boston – A – R – D as in dog – O – S as in September

Helen: Okay, Mr. Bardos. I’ll give her the message.

Ryan: Thanks a lot. Bye.

Now let’s listen to the second part of the conversation, when Natalie calls Ryan back.

Ryan: Hello?

Natalie: Hi, Ryan, this is Natalie returning your call.

Ryan: Hi Natalie, thanks for getting back to me. I was calling about the shipment of keyboards for our office – we haven’t gotten them yet.

Natalie: Oh, that’s not good – they were supposed to be delivered three days ago.

Ryan: Exactly, and we have a new group of employees starting on Monday, so we really need those keyboards as soon as possible.

Natalie: Okay, I’ll look into it right away – if necessary, we can send you an emergency overnight shipment.

Ryan: Thanks, Natalie, I appreciate it.

Natalie: No problem, Ryan. I’ll call you back a little later, as soon as I have more information.

Ryan: Sounds good – talk to you soon.

Natalie: Bye.

Telephone English Phrases – Formal Conversation

From these conversations, we can learn phrases for beginning a phone call, taking and leaving messages, checking and clarifying information, and finishing a phone call.


When Helen answers the phone, she says, “Midtown Computer Solutions, Helen speaking. How can I help you?” This is a common way for a receptionist at a company or organization to answer the phone. Here are a couple alternatives:

  • “Thank you for calling Midtown Computer Solutions. How may I direct your call?”
  • “Midtown Computer Solutions – good afternoon.”

To introduce yourself, you can say: “Hello, this is…” and if you want, you can add your company name:

  • “Hello, this is Ryan Bardos.”
  • “Hello, this is Ryan Bardos from Paramount Publishing.”

Then, ask to speak to somebody by using the phrases:

  • “May I speak with…?”
  • “Could I speak with…?”

You can also add the phrase “I’m calling about…” or “I’m calling to…” in order to give a reason for your call. Use “I’m calling about…” to introduce a topic, and “I’m calling to…” to introduce an action:

  • “I’m calling about the job opening I saw in the newspaper.”
  • “I’m calling to register for the upcoming conference.”

To connect or transfer the call, the receptionist says, “One moment please – I’ll put you through.” A few other phrases for transferring a call are:

  • “Please hold.”
  • “I’ll transfer you.”
  • “May I ask who’s calling?” / “Who’s calling, please?”
    If you forgot to identify yourself at the beginning of the call, the receptionist will sometimes use this phrase to ask for your name.


Unfortunately the person Ryan wants to speak to is not available, and the receptionist says “I’m sorry, Natalie’s in a meeting at the moment.” Here are some additional phrases to use when another person can’t answer a telephone call:

  • “I’m sorry, she’s on another call.”
  • “I’m sorry, Natalie has left for the day.”
  • “I’m sorry, Natalie’s not in her office right now.”
  • “I’m sorry, she’s out of town at the moment.”
  • “I’m sorry, she’s not available at the moment.”

Then, there are two common phrases that are used for offering to take a message:

  • “Would you like to leave a message?”
  • “Can I take a message?”

If you don’t want to leave a message, you can say: “No thanks, I’ll call back later.”

There are two polite ways to leave a message. You can make a statement starting with “Please” or a question starting with “Could you…” – usually followed by the verbs ask, tell, or remind and then “him” (if the message is for a man) or “her” (if the message is for a woman).

  • “Could you ask her to call me back?”
  • “Please ask him to call me back.”
  • “Please tell him/her that the documents are ready.”
  • “Please remind him/her that he/she has a dentist appointment tomorrow.”


While taking the message, the receptionist used two phrases for checking and confirming information:

  • “Let me read that back to you.”
  • “Could you spell your last name for me?”

The verb “spell” means to say the letters of the word. Ryan replies:

  • “B as in Boston – A – R – D as in dog – O – S as in September.”

It’s common to use phrases like “B as in Boston” and “S as in September” with letters that can be frequently confused with others, such as B and D, S and F, or M and N.


When you want to finish the conversation, you can use “signal phrases” – these are phrases indicating that the conversation is coming to an end:

  • “Well, it was nice talking with you.”
  • “Thanks for calling.”
  • “Anyway… I should let you go / I should get going.”

If you want to promise future contact, you can use one of the phrases from the second conversation:

  • “I’ll get in touch in a couple of days.”
    (get in touch = contact you)
  • “I’ll call you back a little later”
  • “Talk to you soon.”

Then you can finish the conversation with one of these “final phrases”:

  • “Bye.”
  • “Take care.”
  • “Have a nice day.”
    Response: “You too. Bye.”

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