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)
- I think you have got the wrong number.
- I am sorry. I have got the wrong number.
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?
If the person you want to talk to is not available, you may want to leave a message. Leaving a message is pretty easy. All that you need to do is to give your name, the time, the reason for your calling and your telephone number.
The telephone rings. If the person you want to talk to is not available on the line, you might hear an auto response.
Here is an example of the auto response and a message you can leave.
- Hello. This is Peter. I’m afraid I’m not in at the moment. Please leave a message after the beep.
After you hear the beep, leave your message. Start with your name and then state the time of your calling.
- Hello. This is John. It is 4 pm. We are going to the theatre tonight. I am calling to find out if you are interested in coming with us. Would you mind calling me back? I can be reached at 932-3615. I will talk to you later. Bye.
Variations are possible.
While giving your name
Hello. This is Alice. / Hello. My name is Alice.
While stating the time
It is nine o’clock in the morning / evening.
It is 10 am.
It is half past three in the afternoon.
It is about noon.
While stating the reason for calling
I am calling to find out if you are free this evening.
I am ringing to see if are interested in coming over for lunch with us.
I am calling to let you know that I won’t be able to meet you tomorrow.
I am calling to tell you that I have just received a call from your landlord.
Make a request to call you back
Could you call / ring me back?
Could you call / ring me back at / on 370 2854?
Would you mind calling me back?
Leaving your number
My number is 670 8932.
You can call me at / on 670 8932.
I can be reached at / on 670 8932.