Sometimes you will have to call a company/organisation and not have a name of a person you want to speak to. This is more difficult for non-native speakers of English than calling somebody directly (on their phone or mobile/cell) or asking to speak to somebody on a phone call, because at the beginning of the conversation you have to explain what you want.

But if you are prepared for not only what you have to say, but also for what questions you will be asked by the person who you will speak to, it makes making these types of phone calls a lot easier to do.

In the below exercise on English telephone phrases, you will learn and remember phrases and vocabulary you can use when calling a company/organisation but you don't have a name of somebody you want to speak to. In addition, you will learn what people will ask you in these types of telephone conversations.

Although the below examples are business calls, you can use and hear the phrases in them when you make calls for non-business reasons (e.g. to contact your bank etc...) as well.


Exercise:

In each of the two following conversations, a person is calling a company. Although both are very similar, there are differences in what the caller asks for.

In the first, the caller wants to speak to somebody in a specific department. In the second, the caller only gives the reason why they are calling.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are and when you should use them in a telephone call. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Telephone Call 1:

Receptionist:'Good morning. Ward Computers. How can I help you?'

Caller:'Good morning. I'd like to speak to somebody in the sales department, please.'

Receptionist:'May I ask what it's regarding?'

Caller:'It's regarding an order which we recently made with yourselves.'

Receptionist:'Can I ask who's calling, please?'

Caller:'Of course. My name's Simon Ward and I'm calling from Hughes Systems.'

Receptionist:'If you'd just hold the line for a minute, I'll see if somebody is available.'

Caller:'No problem.'

Two minutes later

Receptionist:'Thank you for holding the line. I'll put you through to somebody in the sales department.'

Caller:'Thank you.'


Telephone Call 2:

Receptionist:'Good afternoon. Gordon and Smith Supplies. How can I help you?'

Caller:'Good afternoon. I'd like to speak to somebody about an order, please.'

Receptionist:'Are you wanting to place an order?'

Caller:'No, I'm calling about an order which we recently made with yourselves.'

Receptionist:'Can I take your name, please?'

Caller:'My name's John Smith and I'm calling from Shelbourne School.'

Receptionist:'Would you mind holding the line while I see if anybody is available? '

Caller:'No problem.'



Click to see more telephone English vocabulary exercises


Quiz:

Below is a definition/description of each of the phrases in bold from the above text. Now choose the word/phrase from the question's selection box which you believe answers each question. Only use one word/phrase once. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question. The first is an Additional Information Icon "". Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase. The second is a Pronunciation Icon "". Click on this to listen to the pronunciation of the word/phrase and to do a pronunciation speaking test.


1. A phrase you use to say which company or organisation you work for, is
         

I'm calling from:
(phrase) When you are calling a company or organisation, you will always be asked after the person has asked for the reason you are calling, who you are.

If it is a business call you are making, after you have given your name you should say which company or organisation you work for. This is what the phrase 'I'm calling from' is used to do.

For example:

'My name's Simon Pecker and I'm calling from Easy Software.'

Close

I'm calling from:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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2. When you explain to the person the reason why you are calling, you start by saying
         

I'm calling about:
(phrase) When you are calling a company or organisation, one of the first things they will ask you is why you are calling. One phrase that you can use to start explaining the reason is 'I'm calling about'. You would follow this by explaining the reason.

For example:

'May I ask what it's regarding?'

'I'm calling about an email we received from your company.'

In addition to 'I'm calling about', you can also use 'it's about', 'it's regarding' or 'it's concerning' to tell the person the reason for the call when asked. All of these have the same meaning, but 'it's about' sounds less formal and both 'it's regarding' and 'it's concerning' sound a little more formal.

But unlike the others, you can also use 'I'm calling about' to give the reason for the phone call before the other person asks you to. If you want to tell them the reason for the call before they ask you, you would normally do this after you have told them who you are and where you work.

For example:

'My name's John Doe from Panda Care. I'm calling about an email we received from your company.'

Close

I'm calling about:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

3. When the person asks you to wait/hold on the line, it is polite to reply by saying
         

No problem:
(phrase) On many phone calls, you will be asked to wait (hold the line) when the person you are speaking to does something (e.g. speak to somebody, see if a person is available to take your call etc...). When they do this, it is polite to reply by saying 'no problem' (which means 'that's ok').

For example:

'If you'd just hold the line for a minute, I'll see if somebody is available.'

'No problem.'

Close

No problem:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

4. When you tell the person that you want to talk to somebody and you tell them about what, you would say
         

I'd like to speak to somebody about an order, please:
(phrase) The first thing you say when calling a company/organisation is to tell them who you want to talk to. If you don't have a name, then you either have to say what your call is about or what department you want to be transferred to.

The phrase 'I'd like to speak to somebody about an order, please' is used when you tell the person what your call is about. In this example, the person is calling about 'an order'. When you use this phrase, change this to whatever you are calling them about (e.g. an advertisement, an invoice, changing a password etc...).

For example:

'I'd like to speak to somebody about an invoice we received, please.'

Another way to say this phrase is 'can I speak to somebody about an invoice we received, please'. Although less formal than 'I'd like to...', it is perfectly fine to use in most business calls.

Sometimes they may ask you for more information on why you are calling. If they do, you would start explaining why you are calling by using 'it's regarding', 'it's concerning' or 'I'm calling about'.

Close

I'd like to speak to somebody about an order, please:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

5. A phrase you use to tell the person who you are, is
         

My name's:
(phrase) When you are calling a company or organisation, you will always be asked after the person has asked for the reason you are calling, who you are. To say who you are, you should use 'my name's' and then your name (both first name and surname).

Normally if it is a business call you are making, directly after you have given your name you should say which company or organisation you work for.

For example:

'My name's Simon Pecker and I'm calling from Easy Software.'

Close

My name's:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

6. When you tell the person that you want to talk to somebody in a specific part/section of their company, you would say
         

I'd like to speak to somebody in the sales department, please:
(phrase) The first thing you say when calling a company/organisation is to tell them who you want to talk to. If you don't have a name, then you either have to say what your call is about or what department you want to be transferred to.

The phrase 'I'd like to speak to somebody in the sales department, please' is used when you tell the person what department you want to be transferred to. In this example, the person wants to speak to somebody in the 'sales department'. When you use it, you can change it to whatever department or section you want to speak to (e.g. human resources, the accounts department etc...).

For example:

'I'd like to speak to somebody in human resources, please.'

Another way to say this phrase is 'can I speak to somebody in human resources, please'. Although less formal than 'I'd like to...', it is perfectly fine to use in most business calls.

Close

I'd like to speak to somebody in the sales department, please:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

7. Another way to explain to the person the reason why you are calling than saying ' I'm calling about', is to start by saying
         

It's regarding:
(phrase) When you are calling a company or organisation, one of the first things they will ask you is why you are calling. One phrase that you can use to start explaining the reason is 'it's regarding'. You would follow this by explaining the reason.

For example:

'May I ask what it's regarding?'

'It's regarding an invoice that we still haven't received payment on.'

In addition to 'it's regarding', you can also use 'it's concerning', 'I'm calling about' or 'it's about' to explain the reason you are calling. Although 'I'm calling about' or 'it's about' sound a little less formal than 'it's regarding' or 'it's concerning', they are perfectly fine to use in business phone calls.

Unlike 'I'm calling about', you can only use 'it's regarding' (and both 'it's about' and 'it's concerning') to give the reason only after the the other person has asked you for the reason for your call (e.g. 'May I ask what it's regarding/concerning?').

Close

It's regarding:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close






Practice

Now that you understand the vocabulary, you need to use it. So imagine you are making a phone call to somebody and say the phrases.