These are some of the words that you will need if you phone (or telephone) someone:
Parts of a phone number
If you phone a number such as 00 44 (0)181 8379292 there are three parts to the
The numbers in a phone number are usually pronounced separately: 90233 is
pronounced “nine oh two double three”.
If you don’t know the number you can look it up in the phone book/telephone
directory, or dial directory enquiries (UK) /directory assistance (US) and ask
the operator. The operator works for the phone company, giving you information
and connecting your call if necessary. Usually all phone calls can be made without
talking to the operator.
If you phone a large company or organization you may speak to someone in a call
centre. This is a large office where hundreds of people work answering phone calls.
A reverse charge call (UK) /collect call (US) is paid for by the person who receives
it, not by the person who makes the call.
Some people have an answerphone (MAINLY UK)/answering machine
(MAINLY US) which plays a recorded message to you if nobody is able to answer
when you phone. In a company or office many people have an electronic system
Notice the following uses of through:
Can I call Japan direct from here, or do I have to go through the operator?
The lines were really busy and I couldn’t get through to the airport.
Can you put me through to Miss Shaw on extension 342, please?
Common phrases meaning to phone someone
She said she’d phone/telephone/call/ring (you) tomorrow.
I’ll give you a ring/call/phone call.
I need to make a call/phone call (to Brazil).
Common phrases used when phoning someone
Could/Can I speak to Mr Carter, please?
Is that Karen? Hi, this is Barbara/Barbara here.
I’ve been trying to get Sonia all morning but her line is always engaged ( UK)/busy
I think you’ve got a wrong number – this is 654731.
The line’s busy – do you want to hold the line/hold (on)?
It’s a bad/terrible line, I can hardly hear you. Can you speak a bit louder?