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Posted By Manjusha, Filed in English Speaking

British people usually give their name or number when answering a call. To ask for a person you can say 'Could I speak to…? In American English, it is also possible to say Could I speak with…?

Saying who you are
  • Hello. This is Jane. (Not usually I am Jane.)
  • Could I speak to Alice, please?

If it is Alice on the other side, she will say 'Speaking.' Or This is Alice. In American English it is also possible to say This is she/he.

Asking who somebody is

To know who is answering the call you may ask any of the following.

  • Hello. Who is that? (US Who is this?)
  • Who am I speaking to?
  • Who is that speaking?
If somebody is not there

Sometimes the person wanted may not be there. You can use an expression with 'I am afraid' to say that somebody is not there. To take a message say Can I take a message? OR Would you like to leave a message?

  • Hello. Susan Fernandez.
  • Hello. This is Jane. Could I speak to Alice, please?
  • I am afraid she is not in at the moment. Can I take a message?

If you want to leave a message say Can I leave a message?

If you want to ask the person to ring you back you can say Could you ask her/him to call/ring me back? OR Could you just tell her Jane called?

Asking people to wait

You can use any of the following expressions.

  • Just a moment.
  • Hold the line, please.
  • Hold on a moment.
  • Hang on. (Informal)
Wrong numbers
  • I think you have got the wrong number.
  • I am sorry. I have got the wrong number.
Bad Connection

A bad line can cause trouble while telephoning. You may want to hang up and try again later. You can use the following expressions.

  • Could you speak louder? It is a bad line.

Americans will say It is a bad connection.

  • It is a very bad connection. I will hang up and call again.
  • I called you earlier, but I couldn’t get through.
  • Whenever I call you, I get a busy signal.
  • Why do I keep getting a busy signal when I call you?
  • I called you earlier, but I was getting a busy signal.
  • Is your phone out of order?


More English speaking lessons
Meeting people
Telling time
Asking about health
Asking people to repeat
Getting people's attention and offering apologies
Names and titles
Wishing people
Saying Thanks
Saying Please
Meals, drinking
Showing one's attitude to what one is saying



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