Avançado 10. On the Telephone

Our lesson today is about how to use the telephone in English. There will be no exercise. Part 1 of 2

On the Telephone

Calling Someone at Work
A) Hello. This is Kenneth Beare. May I speak to Ms Sunshine, please?
B) Hold the line a moment, I'll check if she is in her office.
A) Thank you.
B) (after a moment) Yes, Ms Sunshine is in. I'll put you through.
A) Hello, this is Ms Sunshine. How can I help you?
B) Hello, my name is Kenneth Beare and I'm calling to enquire about the position advertised in Sunday's Times.
A) Yes, the position is still open. Could I have your name and number please?
B) Certainly, My Name is Kenneth Beare...

Leaving a Message
A) Hello. Could I speak to Jack Parkins, please.
B) Who's calling, please?
A) This is Fred Blinkingham. I'm a friend Jack's.
B) Hold the line, please. I'll put your through. (after a moment) – I'm afraid he's out at the moment. Can I take a message?
A) Yes. Can you ask him to give me a call? My number is 345-8965
B) Could you repeat that, please?
A) Certainly. That's 345-8965
B) OK. I'll make sure Mr. Parkins gets your message.
A) Thank you. Goodbye.
B) Goodbye.

Key Vocabulary
• This is ...
• May (Can, Could) I speak to...?
• I'm calling ...
• Hold the line a moment...
• Put someone through...
• Who's calling...?
• Take a message
• Call, ring, phone
Note On the telephone use 'this is...' instead of 'I am'.

Telephone English - The Phrases

There are a number of phrases and idioms that are only used when telephoning. Let's first take a look at an example dialogue: Here are the most common:
• Operator: Hello, Frank and Brothers, How can I help you?
• Peter: This is Peter Jackson. Can I have extension 3421?
• Operator: Certainly, hold on a minute, I'll put you through...
• Frank: Bob Peterson's office, Frank speaking.
• Peter: This is Peter Jackson calling, is Bob in?
• Frank: I'm afraid he's out at the moment. Can I take a message?
• Peter: Yes, Could you ask him to call me at 212 456-8965. I need to talk to him about the Nuovo line, it's urgent.
• Frank: Could you repeat the number please?
• Peter: Yes, that's 212 456-8965, and this is Peter Jackson.
• Frank: Thank you Mr Jackson, I'll make sure Bob gets this asap.
• Peter: Thanks, bye.
• Frank: Bye.

As you can see, the language is rather informal and there are some important differences to everyday English. Look at the chart below for key language and phrases used in telephone English:

Introducing yourself:
• This is Ken.
• Ken speaking

Asking who is on the telephone:
• Excuse me, who is this?
• Can I ask who is calling, please?

Asking for Someone
• Can I have extension 321? (extensions are internal numbers at a company)
• Could I speak to...? (Can I - more informal / May I - more formal)
• Is Jack in? (informal idiom meaning: Is Jack in the office?

Connecting Someone:
• I'll put you through (put through - phrasal verb meaning 'connect')
• Can you hold the line? Can you hold on a moment?

How to reply when someone is not available:
• I'm afraid ... is not available at the moment
• The line is busy... (when the extension requested is being used)
• Mr. Jackson isn't in... Mr. Jackson is out at the moment...

Taking a Message:
• Could (Can, May) I take a message?
• Could (Can, May) I tell him who is calling?
• Would you like to leave a message?

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