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Telephone English – Useful phone expressions to improve your English!

Speaking over the phone is never easy, even in your own language. But in a foreign one it’s even harder.

For a start, you can’t see the person you’re talking to (in most cases), which makes things even more complicated. But if you learn a few of the common expressions used on the phone, this can really help you.

In this quick lesson, you’ll learn some really useful phone expressions to improve your English, and help you understand phone conversations more easily.

Level: Pre-intermediate to Advanced (A2-C1)

 Useful phone language

First, listen to the useful phone language learn how to pronounce the words. Pause the audio before the dialogue starts.



Telephone numbers

  • We say “Oh” or “zero” for the number “0”.
  • We say “double” for two numbers that are the same.

For example: “744” is “seven double four”.

Answering the phone

  • Hello? (informal)
  • Sam speaking. How may I help you?
  • Thank you for calling Quick Fix Kitchens. (business)
  • Eddie’s Electric Store. How can I help you?

 Introducing yourself – the caller

  • Hi. It’s Joanne. (informal)
  • Hello, this is Sally Fields calling.
  • Hi, this is Bernadette from the accountant’s office.
  • Hi, this is Laura speaking.

 Not understanding something

  • I’m sorry? / Sorry?
  • Could you repeat that, please?
  • Could you say that again, please?
  • I’m sorry but I didn’t catch your name.

Now pause the audio!

Listening activity

 Listening 1

You are going to listen to a phone call. Britney has called Julian to ask about a number. Press play again on the audio button above and listen once without stopping. Answer these 3 questions. [answers below]

  1. How does Julian answer the phone?
  2. What is Steph’s number?
  3. How do the callers say goodbye?

Listening 2

Listen to the phone call again, pausing the audio when you want, and checking your answers.

Listening 3

Now read and listen to the dialogue at the same time (see the script below). This will really improve your listening skills and telephone english.

Phone dialogue script

Julian: Hello?
Britney: Hi, is Julian there?
Julian: Speaking.
Britney: Oh, hi, Julian. It’s Britney. How’s it going?
Julian: Not too bad. What can I do for you?
Britney: I was just wondering if you had Steph’s phone number?
Julian: Yes, I think so. Hang on a minute. Yes, here it is, it’s 605 448 309.
Britney: I’m sorry I didn’t get that. There’s a lot of traffic here. Could you repeat it, please?
Julian: Sure! It’s 605 448 309.
Britney: 605 448 305?
Julian: No, that’s a nine at the end: 605 448 309.
Britney: Oh, OK. Great. Thanks a lot. See you soon.
Julian: Bye.
Britney: Bye.


  1. How does Julian answer the phone? =
Julian answers the phone by saying “Hello?”
  1. What is Steph’s number? =
Steph’s number is 605 448 305.
  1. How do the callers say goodbye? =
The callers say goodbye by saying, “Bye!”

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