How to Speak Well on the Phone (Part 2)

In today’s article, we will be talking about how to answer the phone. In our previous blog, we have discussed that speaking on the phone can be quite a challenge for English learners. One simple solution for that is to memorize key phone expressions that we use all the time.

Doing this will improve your listening. You’ll be less anxious because you’ll know what people will normally say on the phone, and your speaking, as well as confidence, will improve.

When someone calls and you pick up the phone, you answer by saying, “Hello.”

The person who is calling will then ask a question, which can be done in different ways:

1) “This is (caller’s name)______ calling for ______ (Mr. Smith).”

*This expression is formal and commonly used at work.

2) “Is ________  in(the person that the caller wants to speak with)?”


3) “Is ________(the person that the caller wants to speak with)there, please?”


4) “May I speak with ______(the person that the caller wants to speak with), please?”



  • “May I speak with the principal, please?”
  • “May I speak with the head nurse, please?”
  • “May I speak with the manager, please?”

The answers to the questions above also vary. So if you are the person the caller is looking for, you say:

1) “Speaking.”

*This means it’s me. I’m the person you’re looking for.

2) “Josh (or your name) speaking. How can I help you?”

3) “This is Elise (or your name).”

There are instances when you pick up the phone, and the caller is looking for another person, like your mother, brother, your boss, or officemate. So, here are possible responses that you can give. These phrases say ‘you need to wait,’ but you don’t say “wait” because that’s very direct. In our previous blog, we discussed that we need to avoid being directly on the phone because that would be rude. Here are polite ways of saying “wait.”

1) “Please hang on. I’ll get ______ (the person that the caller wants to speak with).”


2) “Please hang on a sec.”


3) “Just a moment, please.”


4) “One moment, please.”


For cases when the person that the caller needs is not around, you can say:

1) “I’m sorry. She/ He/ _____ (Name of person) is not here at the moment. Would you like to leave a message?”

2) “Oh, sorry. She/ He/ _____ (Name) is not here. I can take your message.”

After taking the message, you can hang up the phone.

Many other scenarios can happen during a phone call. We will discuss taking a message and ending a phone call in our next article. In the meantime, you can practice common phone expressions with another English learner or with your LingualBox teacher.

Continue to How to Speak Well on the Phone (Part 3).

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.