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Real English: Speaking on the phone

Real English: Speaking on the phone

Well… Oo, actually I’ve got to go now
because you know I’m at work. Yeah. I’ve just got to teach a lesson. Okay. Yeah,
I’m teaching a lesson right now. Uh-huh. Okay, so I’ll see ya later. Yeah? All
right. See ya later, then. Bye. Bye. Sorry about that. Hi. Oo. Pen. Hi. I’m Gill from engVid, and
today-sorry-we have a lesson on the phone. Not on the phone. I was just on the phone. I
apologize about that. Unexpected phone call. We’re looking today at: “Phone Vocabulary”.
Okay? So words and phrases to use to do with making phone calls, being on the phone, calling
people. Okay. Maybe just with your friends, phoning your friends, but also in your job
if you have to use the phone at work – this is all useful stuff for that. Okay.
Right. So, phone vocabulary. First of all, if the phone rings you “answer
the phone”. Okay? Answer the phone. You say: “Oh, the phone is ringing. I’ll
have to answer the phone.” Okay. Now, if you’re making the call, you’re phoning, you’re making… Making
a phone call. Okay? And somebody answers at the other end, you have to say something.
So you might say: “Hello, is that Anne?
Is that Anne?” So: “Hello, is that”, and the name
of the person that you want to speak to. That’s more maybe informal if you’re phoning
somebody’s home. If you’re phoning an office, a business, you might say: “Hello. Could I
speak to…?” This is a little bit more… More formal. “Could I speak to Mr.
Jones?” Something like that. Okay. Sometimes when you make a phone call and somebody
answers, and you’re not quite sure if it’s the person you want or not, you don’t quite
recognize the voice, so you sometimes want to ask them their name to see if that is the
person you were phoning to speak to. So you can say: “Who am I speaking to, please?” It’s
always a good idea to use “please” when you’re asking a question on the phone. “Who am I
speaking to, please?” And then they will say who they are and if they are the person you
want to speak to, you can continue with your call; if they are not the person you
want to speak to, you would use this: “Could I speak to Mr.
Jones, please?” Okay, right. Now, sometimes if you phone and the person at
the other end, they want you to wait probably because they need to find the person
you want to speak to, so they say: “Could you hang on?” or “Could you hold on?” That’s
the same thing. It just means to wait. “Hang on” or “Hold on”. Or if they’re being very polite or
if this is you in an office taking a phone call, and it might be a customer, an important
person, so you might say very politely: “Would you mind holding?” Instead of just saying:
“Hang on”, which is a little bit casual and informal, or even: “Hold on” which is a little…
Not very… It’s okay, but it’s not very polite. This is much more polite: “Would you
mind holding?” It’s a much nicer way. “Would you mind holding, please?” is even
better. Okay, so that’s a good one to use. And then say this is you going to try to find
somebody in the office to take this phone call, you come back. If you have to go back
to the same person after they’ve been holding on or hanging on, or holding, you come and
say: “Sorry to keep you waiting. Sorry to keep you waiting.” Especially if they’re a
customer. And, again: “Sorry”, if there is other bad news like the person they want to
speak to is not there: “Sorry, she’s not here.” You might say: “She’s not here at the moment.”
At the moment. Or if that person is already on the phone talking to somebody else, you
can say: “Sorry, he’s on the other line”, meaning the telephone line.
“Sorry, he’s on the other line.” So, when that situation happens and say it’s
you in an office taking the call, you don’t want to just say: “Oh, sorry, he’s on the
other line” and then wait for the person to say something, like: “Oh well, okay then,
good bye.” You have to be helpful. You’ve got to then continue being helpful because
this could be a customer or it could be the boss, it could be anybody. So you need to be
helpful and say: “Sorry, he’s on the other line. Can I take a message?” Okay? Take a
message, to write down a message to say this person called, and either they will call
again or can you call them back. So: “Can I take a message?” or “Can I give her a
message?” Okay? And if it’s you that’s calling, you have phoned somewhere and the person is not
available-okay?-you can say, politely: “Could I leave a message?” Okay? So that the person
who has answered the phone will write a message down and give it to the person that you want
to speak to. “Could I”, that’s the polite way of asking. Not: “Can I”, but: “Could I”, it’s
much more polite. “Could I leave a message, please?” You could put “please” again. “Could I
leave a message for him, please? Could I leave a message for
her, please?” Okay. Now, this one, this is if the person who has
answered is the person you want to speak to, but they are busy doing something else at
that moment. It’s not convenient for them to speak to you, but they are being helpful
and they say: “Can I call you back?” Maybe: “Can I call you back in 10 minutes? Can
you…? Can I call you back this afternoon?”, “Can I call you back before 4 o’clock?” So this
is all being helpful and ensuring that you do eventually speak to that person and
have time to talk about something. “Can I call you back?” Now, this one, this is if someone has phoned
you and you weren’t there, so somebody else had to take a message for you, and apologize,
and be polite and helpful, and you come home and you get this message: “Mr. Jones called.
Can you call him?” So you phone the number and you tell the person who answers: “I’m
returning…” “Could I speak to Mr. Jones? I’m returning his call.” That means he
called me, he wants to speak to me. “I’m returning his call” so that we can have the
conversation. He wants to speak to me. I’m returning his call. I’m calling him back.
Okay. And then finally in this section, sometimes
people’s names are difficult to spell or place names, and so on, so if you need to get a
name clear, if you want to make sure you’ve got the right spelling, you can say: “Could I”, the
polite form: “Could I ask you to spell that, please?” Okay? If it’s a difficult name: “Could I
ask you to spell that, please?” Okay? So that’s most of the main ways of speaking
on the phone, and we just have a few more items which are to do… We’ve had a few problems
here with not being able to speak to people, but we have a few more problem situations
and a few more words and phrases connected to that, so we’ll do that next. Okay, so a few more telephone problems and
the words to use. So, if you try to ring a number and you just can’t… Well, this is it:
“I can’t get through. I can’t get through” meaning there’s something wrong. You’re tapping
out the number, but nothing is happening for some reason, nobody is answering. You can’t even
hear the line ringing. You know the ringing, ringing tone isn’t… It’s not even ringing.
Okay. “I can’t get through” meaning I can’t make the connection. Okay. And some of the reasons why you can’t
get through: “The line is busy”. If the person is already on the phone the line is
busy. Or in the UK we say: “It’s engaged”. “Engaged” means, you know, somebody is already speaking
on the phone to somebody else, which is why you can’t get through. Okay. It’s busy or
engaged, so those… Those are the same thing. Sometimes “unobtainable”. In the UK we get
a sort of continuous “[makes beep noise]” sound when you dial a number that doesn’t
exist basically. Maybe it’s an old number, you’re trying to contact a friend, maybe that
friend has moved away and they didn’t take their phone number with them. So that line,
that number doesn’t exist anymore. So we call it this fancy word: “unobtainable”, meaning
you can’t obtain it, you can’t get through because it doesn’t exist.
Okay. So… Okay, so say you do get through, you can get
through and you can hear a voice at the other end, but you can’t hear them very well,
they’re very quiet, so you can say: “Could you speak up, please?” Again, “please” is
good. “Could you” is good, a polite way of asking. “Could you speak up? Could you speak up, please?
I can’t hear you.” Okay. “It’s a bad line.” Rather than blame that person
for having a quiet voice: “Oh, your voice is really quiet. I can’t
hear you.” That’s not very nice to say that, and it may not be
their fault anyway. It may be the technology that is… Has something
wrong and you can’t hear them very well, so you can ask them: “Could you speak up, please?
It’s a bad line.” Always blame the technology. Don’t blame the person for having a quiet
voice because they won’t be your friend for much longer if you do that. Okay. So: “Could
you speak up, please? It’s a bad line.” Okay? The line is the connection, the
technology the cable, whatever. Or if you’re on a mobile phone: “Sorry, you’re
breaking up.” It doesn’t mean they’re falling apart physically. It’s their voice, the voice
is breaking up. Oops, sorry, wrong way around. Meaning your voice is breaking up. The sound
is… Has got little broken pieces in it. Instead of continuous sound it’s: “Unh-unh-unh-unh-unh-unh”,
and you’re losing part of what they’re saying. “You’re breaking up”, that’s usually with a
mobile phone. So, again, blame the technology, not the person for having a funny voice that goes:
“Unh-unh-unh-unh-unh” because it’s probably not their fault. Okay. “Sorry, you’re breaking up.
Bad signal.” Right. That can happen. Sometimes if you’re on a train and you go under a bridge, you
lose the signal and you even get cut off sometimes. That’s the next one, yeah. “I think
we got cut off.” Okay. You don’t say: “You hung up on me!” meaning the other person just
put the phone down because they didn’t want to talk to you anymore. Don’t blame them for
hanging up on you. Hanging up on someone isn’t a very nice thing to do, but sometimes if
two people are having an argument over the phone and one person has just had enough,
they just put the phone down. They don’t want to talk anymore. They’re too fed up with it.
So just if the connection is lost, don’t blame them. Phone again if you want to and say:
“I think we got cut off.” Yeah, right. So, don’t blame them for… Don’t suggest that
they hung up on you because it won’t… It won’t help your relationship probably.
So: “I think we got cut off.” Right. The last two examples are when you just phone
and… Or somebody phones you and you don’t know them, they’re total strangers. So if
they say: “Hello, is Gladys there?” and your name isn’t Gladys and nobody called Gladys
lives in the same building as you, you say… You don’t sort of… Don’t be rude.
Even if it’s a stranger, you don’t say: “Don’t be stupid. There’s no one here
called Gladys.” No. Not a good idea. Try to be polite again and say: “Sorry, I think you’ve got the wrong
number.” Okay? They’ve tapped the numbers wrong, in the wrong order or something’s
gone wrong with the technology again. “Sorry, I think you’ve
got the wrong number.” And if they have asked for somebody by name
and there is no one with that name where you live or where you work, you say… You could
say: “Sorry, there’s no one of that name here.” Okay? “Sorry, there’s no one of that name here.
Are you sure you dialed the right number?” You can ask them: “What number? What number
did you dial?” You can ask them to read the number back to you, and sometimes they read
you a number and it’s not your number, and you can say: “Oh, sorry, that’s not
this number. Something has gone wrong.” So these are all some of the lovely scenarios
that can happen with the telephone or the phone. We don’t use the word “telephone” so
much now. It’s a very formal word, “telephone”. You might use it in an essay, but in speaking
you say “phone”. So, okay. So I hope that’s been helpful, something you can use
in your daily life and in your job. If you’d like to answer a quiz on this, which I highly
recommend, please go to the website,, and answer the questions there. And
come back and see us again soon. Okay. Bye.

100 thoughts on “Real English: Speaking on the phone”

  1. Sorry…recien estoy aprendiendo el idioma, que profesora tan linda y su enseñanza perfecta…Mil gracias Gil 🌹

  2. Excellent work ma'm. Thank you. May I ask you a question? It might not be exactly related to the topic. You mentions that "who am i speaking to". Generally I was taught at school, "whom" instead of "who". by the way, not only here, but also I heard this in several conversations as well. Are these two interchangeable?

  3. If the beauty gets a tongue and speaks it will be you.
    Really you are more than a teacher.
    I am in love with your amazing pronunciation & explanation way .
    Best regards from algeria

  4. It's hard hang up the phone when I'm talking with a Englishman.
    It's like…
    Bye bye..
    It was a pleasure…
    See you…
    Bye now…

  5. I really love to watch your teaching videos, also you look like my boyfriend's auntie also sounds like her and she lives in London also. You are so adorable!!!

  6. Hi i'm from Algeria, thank you so much Lady, you teach that you have an easy method 🙏👍👍👍, i like and prefer the English British ❤

  7. This lesson inspired me. Imagine everyone on this planet talk like this how wonderful place would be………

  8. God bless you maam
    At this age when most mothers are on bed aching and depressed and complaining
    You are an inspiration
    Lots of love
    Wish I had a mom like you

  9. This is very helpful and has covered nearly all the situations I may encounter. Thank you very much. You’re my favourite teacher here. 😊

  10. Cuteness overloaded mam…your videos take me back to good old days when people used to be decent, soft mannered and oh so natural…you are a natural teacher indeed

  11. 🐞🌸🤗🏵thank youuuuu!!!!! 🏵🌓🏵🌹🏵🏵💮🌸🌸💐super clarooo!!! 💐💐graaaacias!!💐desde 🇦🇷Argentina 😙

  12. Talk U Gill. Could you please make a video on English for Meetings and Negotiations. You can split the topics into some separate videos should the materials covered be so much that they can't be covered in one video. Thank you

  13. Hello Teacher Gill I am eager to know your age.. your energy level is so awesome 👏 gives instant boost for me

  14. Phone etiquette well taught by Gill Ma'am. It's joy listening to your class. Friendly voice with soothing touch stimulates our interest to learn more and more. Ma'am you deserve all worthy encomiums. Absolutely great. So nice of you, Ma'am.(Ravi)

  15. Congrats on the video!
    Learning English?
    Irregular Verbs. The Ultimate Guide./ Amazon.
    A book simple in form but rich in content!

  16. Invaluable tips here, even for native speakers like myself. We take so much for granted it’s nice to have it all analysed like this.

  17. It's a great luck that everyone on the planet Earth mostly speaking american english. That lady sound weird.

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