BBC Learning English | Talking business | Telephone: Language expert


Hold on = hang on = wait

Hang up = ring off (the opposite is “ring sb up”, means make a call) = finish the call by breaking the connection = put the phone down.

Generally speaking, if you are talking to someone in a business context, you should use couldcanmay or would when you make a request:‘Could I speak to Jason Roberts, please?’ ‘Can I take a message?’ ‘Would next Wednesday be okay?’. You should also use please andthank you or thanks very much whenever you ask for, or receive, help or information.



Claire: Hello, finance department
Female: Hello, can I speak to Adrian Hopwood, please?
Claire: I’m afraid he’s in a meeting at the moment. Can I help?
Female: No I need to talk to Mr Hopwood, I think. What time will he be out of the meeting?
Claire: In about an hour. Can you call back later?
Female: Okay, I’ll do that.
Claire: Or can I take a message?
Female: Actually, would you mind? Could you tell him that Jennifer McAndrews called and that I’m in the office all day if he could call me back.
Claire: Can I take your number, please?
Female: Yes, it’s 5556872.
Claire: 5556872.  Okay, I’ll make sure he gets the message.
Female: Thanks very much for your help, bye!
Claire: Goodbye!

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