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BBS1 Mainz

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Englisch – Telefongespräche


To say who you are? A. speaking. (Anruf abnehmen)

It’s A. here. (Anrufen einer bekannten Person)

This is A.

D. . (Anrufen von nicht Bekannten)

To open a conversation politely? Nice to hear from you.

To say who you want to speak to? I actually want to speak to …

To put a caller through to another person? Just hang on a moment while I make the connection.

To say that sb. can’t talk now? I’m afraid sb.’s line is engaged.
I’m actually talking to so. on the other line.

To say you will call again later? I’ll try calling later.

To take or leave a message? Let me just get a pen.
I’ll tell sb. you called.


Questions: Answers:

Could I speak to … , please? Certainly.

Can I take a message? That would be great. / Yes, please.

Could you ask him to call me back?

Could you tell me your name again?

Does … have your number? Yes, he does.

Is he/ she there at the moment?

Shall I put you through to her/ him? Yes, please.

Can I just ask what it’s about?

Can I call you back in … minutes? Sure, no problem.

Could you please hold?


Using first names:

  • do what the other person does

  • if the other person has a much higher status, then use the family name

  • if it is the first time you speak to sb., use the family name

  • if you contact with the person before, then you can use the first name

  • if it is an important business contact, try using first names


Giving bad news:

I’m sorry, but … Mr … is in a meeting.

I’m afraid … he’s not there.

actually (to make a statement more polite) No, I’ll actually call back later.

  • instead of “no”

  • change the subject

  • say somet. which is annoying (Can I call you back? I ‘m actually talking to so. on the other line.)


Caller is speaking to quiet.

Sorry, can you speak up a bit, please?

didn’t understand what the caller said Sorry, I didn’t catch that.

say something again Sorry, could you repeat that, please?

caller is speaking to fast Sorry, could you say that a bit more slowly, please?

called somebody by mistake Sorry, I think you have the wrong number.

don’t know how to write a word Sorry, could you spell that for me, please?

phone makes a lot of noise Sorry, this is a really bad line.

caller was cut off + call again Sorry, we got cut off.


How to be less direct:

  • use the past tense What was your question? / I just wanted to check …

  • use “could / would” in questions Could you tell me what the price would be?

What is … = What would be …


Active listening strategies:

  • when listening, say words like: right, got you, yeah

  • Echoing Tuesday, okay.

  • Asking for clarification Sorry, was that 40 or 14?

  • Reading numbers, … back Let me just read that back to you.

  • Ask the person for reading back Can you just read that back to me?



Opening the call Exchanging information

I’m calling about … What was your question?

I have a question about … What would you like to know?

I wanted to ask about … Could you tell me … ?

Are you the right person to ask?

Checking information Symbols

Would you like me to spell that for you? _ = underscore

Did you say … ? - = hyphen

Sorry, I didn’t catch that. ( = open bracket [ ] = square bracket

Let me just read that back to you. – = dash

Let me just check that (and get back to you). : = colon ; = semi-colon



Suggesting a meeting / appointment

I was wondering if you might have time to meet me.

Could we schedule a meeting for next month?



Asking about or suggesting a time to meet

When would suit you?

Would that be okay for you?

We could meet …

Shall we say … ?

What is about … ?

Where would be the best place to meet?



Saying if a time is convenient or not

I’m booked up …

is bad for me.

That would be good for me.

I’m tight up all day.

I think that should be possible.

I should be free on …

Yes, that sounds good.



Confirming an arrangement

I’ll see you … then.

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