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Business English: Functional Language for Telephoning

These materials are designed to give you some essential functional language for: Making and receiving phone calls at work.

Although a lot of business communication is done via Email or video calls nowadays, the ability to actually phone someone is still an essential skill to have.


Functional Language for Telephone Calls

Introducing yourself and the purpose of the call:

  • Good morning/afternoon/evening. This is (your name) at (company name)/from (department name). Could I speak to (person you’re calling for)?

  • Good morning/afternoon/evening. This is (your name) at (company name)/ from (department name). I’m calling about/because…

  • Hello, I just received a phone call from this number, but I don't know who was calling me. My name is ______ and I'm from _______.

  • I'd like to speak to (persons name) (in the ________ department).

  • Could I speak to (persons name). (in the ________ department).

  • I'm (just) calling about/ with regards to....

  • I'm (just) calling to ask/check/find out...

  • I'm calling on behalf of (name of person)...

When the person you want to speak to is unavailable:

  • Can I leave a message for them?

  • Could you tell them that I called, please?

  • Could you ask them to call me back, please?

  • Okay, thanks. I’ll call back later.

Dealing with bad connections/ misunderstandings:

  • Sorry, the reception here is really bad, could you repeat that.

  • I’m sorry, could you say that again please?

  • Sorry, I didn't catch that, could you say it again please?

Ending the call

  • Thank you very much. Have a good day

  • Thanks for your help. Have a good day.

Answering the phone:

*Depending on where you work you might find that your answering statement needs to follow a certain format, but would be based around something like;

  • Good morning/good afternoon, this is (your name) in/at (department), how can I help?

Passing on a call to someone else:

  • I'll just see if they are available.

  • I'm going to put you on hold while I see if they are here.

  • Can you just wait a second while I check for you...

  • Could I get your name please?

  • Who shall I say is calling?

  • ...they are here, I will just put you through.

*When I worked in a social work office in London it was common that people would call up asking for a colleague who might well have been sat next to me, and assuming that they might not always want to actually take the call at that time I would always repeat the name of the person they were after so that the person knew someone was phoning for them - "sorry, you said you are looking for DAN SMITH... let me have a look if they are here". That way Dan could signal to me that they didn't want to take a call and I'd then say - "Sorry, I can't see Dan in the office at the moment, can I let him know you called...".

Taking a message:

  • He’s/she’s not available at the moment. Would you like to leave a message? He’s/she’s out of the office right now. Can I take a message?

Ending the call:

  • Is there anything else I can help you with?…Okay, thanks for calling. Have a good day. Is there anything else I can do for you?…Okay, have a good day.

Is there any missing that you can think of? If so, let me know and it can be added!


The Content of the Call:

Of course, the language provided above is really only the most common functional language, the actual content of the call and everything that happens within it is going to be dependent on your general English skills. One way to practice this though is to do this as a form of role play, or simply in discussion about what you would and could say in certain situations. This is best planned together as a part of a lesson.


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