What to Say in a Phone Conversation

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Many English students are nervous about talking on the phone and have a conversation in English. With telephone conversation, you don’t see the person you’re talking to. So, it’s easier to be misunderstood, or you could easily misunderstand the other person.

Today we’ll learn about talking on the phone and trying to understand what the other person is saying.

Here are common expressions and lines that you can use so you’ll have more confidence in talking on the phone.

A. The following expressions talk about raising the volume because their voice is too soft and you can’t hear them well.

  • “Could you speak a little louder, please?”

(This is a polite way of speaking because of the words: could and please.)

  • “Sorry, what did you say?”

(This one is informal which you can use when talking to friends.)

  • “Please speak up. I can’t hear you very well.” 

(This is also polite. And, ‘speak up’ means more volume.)

B. This sentence talks about slowing down because they talk too fast.

  • “Please, could you speak slower?”

C. You use this sentence when you want them to repeat something because you did not quite get it. Common examples are when the other person is giving you an email address, mailing address, contact or phone number, name of website or business, and name of a building. The spellings can be difficult and tricky.

  • “Sorry, would you mind repeating the email address, please?”

(The phrase ‘would you mind’ is a nice way of asking someone to do something.)

  • “Sorry, would you mind repeating the business name, please?”

D. You use these sentences when you don’t understand what the other person is saying.

  • “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that.”

(The phrase ‘catch that’ means you did not ‘get the meaning of that’.)

  • “Did you say that Mr. Smith’s office is on the sixth floor, not the fifth?”
  • “Did you say that the wedding is on the 13th and not the 30th?

(So, there’s a bit of confusion because the words 30 and 13 sound almost the same, and you ask to clarify which one is it.)

  • “You said… Is that right?”
  • “You said you don’t deliver pasta, only pizza. Is that right?”
  • “You said… Did I hear you right?”

If you are in a business setting and you did not quite understand what was said on the phone, you can always follow up with an email. This is to check that you got the right details.

You can write:

 

Hello, Mr. Atkins.

We had a conversation on the phone yesterday.

I would just like to clarify. Did you say that you want to have a meeting with our CEO on May 3, between 5 to 5:30 PM at the Plaza Hotel?

Best regards,

Jane Doe

 

Try and familiarize these phrases or sentences. Hopefully, these will help you understand your telephone conversations better, so you don’t need to be nervous about speaking on the phone.

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I have a passion for the English language because it is such a powerful tool for creativity and personal development. I've been writing articles since I was in High School. I represented my school in English writing competitions in the city, regional, and national levels. When I was in college, I wrote a short story which was published in the University Literary Portfolio. In 2006, I worked as a call center agent in Cebu City. In 2007 up to 2008, I worked as an English accent trainer in a startup call center company. I have also been offering ESL lessons as a freelance tutor since February 2016.