How to make a business phone call in English

Communicating on the phone in English

Talking on the telephone is a fundamental business English skill. Learn what to say and then practise using these phrases. The more you use them, the easier it will become to communicate on the phone!

Saying hello

Depending on how formal or informal you want to be, you can say:

Hello. (More formal)

Hi. (More informal and friendly).

It sounds more professional if you use these expressions, especially if you are a receptionist or working in a call centre or you are contacting a company for the first time):

Good morning.

Good afternoon.

Good evening.

You can also add the name of your company when you answer the phone:

Good morning. WorldTech Solutions. How may I help you?

Good afternoon. Baxter Communications. Who would you like to speak to?

To identify yourself and say which company you are calling from, using these expressions:

Hello. This is Natalie Cooper from Anderson’s Ltd.

Hi. I’m Rohit Singh, Operations Director at QXT Systems.

Note that in English we usually say This is… when you’re on the phone and  I am… when you are actually at the reception desk in a company.

If you want to speak to someone, say:

Can / May I speak to Jane Wilson, please?

May is a bit more formal than can, but both are OK.

If you are answering the call, you can say:

One moment, please. I’ll just see if he / she is available.

It’s a good idea to check with your colleague if they want to speak to the caller before connecting them.

If the other person wants to accept the call, you can say:

OK, I’ll just put you through.

Put someone through is a phrasal verb. It means “connect”. Use this is you have a phone system with different lines where you can transfer the call to someone’s phone.

If you are sitting next to the other person, you can say:

I’ll just hand you over.

And then you give the receiver to your colleague.

If someone is unavailable, use:

I’m sorry. He’s / She’s not available at the moment.

He’s / She’s in a meeting.

Informally, you can say:

I’m sorry. He’s / She’s tied up at the moment.

Tied up is an informal expression meaning “busy”.

If you want to give a message to the person who’s not available, say:

Can I leave a message, please?

If you are answering the call, use:

Would you like to leave a message?

You can then say:

Could you tell him / her that I’ll be late for the meeting, please?

Could you let him / her know that I’ve received the proposal?

If you’re taking the message, say:

OK, I’ll make sure he / she gets that.

I’ll pass that on.

If you want to give someone your phone number, say:

Can I give you my number?

Or you can ask:

Can I have / take your number, please?

Finish the call by asking:

Can I help you with anything else?

Is there anything else I can help you with?

If you’ve received the call, you can also add:

Thank you for calling.

Or, if you made the call, you can say:

Thanks for your help.

End the call by saying:

Bye.

Have a nice day.

Take care (informal).