The best English phrases to learn to improve your skills when answering a telephone

Taking phone calls when you are not used to it can sometimes feel quite intimidating. Many people feel this way taking calls in their first language, let alone their second or third!

You may run into problems with the callers speaking as fast as a bullet train where it can be hard to understand what it is they just said. Knowing how to ask the right questions in a professional manner is of the highest importance.

But what are the right questions to ask? In this article we will go through with you some of the top questions to ask, helping you become a pro at answering the telephone in business English.


To begin a business phone call, you want to ensure to speak professionally, and concisely. The standard opener consists of:

Hi there, I’m calling from (Company name) please may I speak to (Name)

Otherwise, if you have a general query for whoever you are calling and do not need to speak to a specific person, you can say:

Hi there, I’m calling from (Company name), in relation to (Subject)

Keep in mind there are many variants when calling through to another business, however, the ones listed are a good way for beginners to use.

Take a message for someone

If the caller can’t talk to the person they would like to talk to straight away, they may want you to take a message for them. Making sure that speaking politely you relay one of the following lines:

Unfortunately they aren’t able to take your call at the moment, would you like to leave a message?

Can I take a message for you?

However, they may not want to leave a message with you. If this is the case, you could try the following:

Is it possible for you to call back in a few hours?

Can I connect you to someone else in the business who may be able to help you?

Going through to voicemail when making a call

If you have unfortunately missed speaking to the individual or department you need, there is always the option to leave a voicemail.

The key to a great voice message is condensing what you need to say so you get the point across quickly. Ensure to include the following when leaving the message:

Name and Company Name
The reason you are calling
Contact details so they can call you back
When you are available to be called back
This is the basic information required for a business voicemail, however, depending on who you are calling, and your relationship to them the information you provide can vary.

Want more help learning business English?

If you are interested in learning more about Business English, and becoming an expert in telephone calling and communicating in Business English, we can help.

At B20 Business School, we help students achieve their dreams of becoming proficient and confident in business English, through a variety of our online courses.

Sounds interesting? Contact us today and we can help improve your business English in a flexible online environment, where you can study whenever you want, wherever you are in the world.