Five ways to answer the phone in English in a workplace

Lectura Niveles B1-B2 (6 min)

Although in Spanish it is completely normal to start a conversation with ‘Sí, ´dime’, this would come across as very rude in English, no one is that direct. The number one rule for talking on the phone in English is courtesy. You must always be polite. In this blog, we’re going to look at five ways to answer the phone in a workplace.

  1. “Hello, [your name] speaking”

It is very important to start a conversation with a greeting, like ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’. Always! Otherwise the person on the other end of the phone will be very confused and you will come across as rude. If you work in an office or somewhere similar where you don’t know who is calling you, the usual thing to would be to say ‘Hello, [your name] speaking’. ­­­

  • “Hi, this is [your name or your company’s name]. How can I help?”

This is another classic and very common way of answering the phone in a workplace. It is polite and you get straight to the point. I suppose the phrase ‘how can I help?’ is the most similar thing to the Spanish ‘dime’. As you can see, the English are very over polite! A top tip is to memorise this phrase and say it every time you answer the phone.

  • “Good morning/afternoon/evening. My name is [your name]. Could I speak to [their name]?

Use this phrase if you are the one making the call. In this case, saying ‘my name is…’ doesn’t sound strange because you’re introducing yourself. Of course, remember to change the greeting depending on the time you make the call! For example, after 12pm say ‘good afternoon’ and after 6pm say ‘good evening’.

  • “May I ask who is calling, please?”

If you’ve answered the phone and the person on the other end hasn’t introduced themselves, instead of asking ‘who are you?’ we use this phrase: ‘may I ask who is calling, please?’ It is much less frank, but almost 95% of the natives would use it in this situation. That’s right: we ask permission to ask who is calling! If you use it you will come across like a native!

  • “Hey, what’s up?”

And to finish, a more colloquial and casual way to answer the phone. Be careful, use this one only if you know the person who is calling you and you have a good relationship with them. ‘What’s up?’ means ‘how are you’, but remember that you can always say ‘how are you?’ if you want to be a little more formal.

Remember: Always say ‘goodbye’. In some countries it is normal to hang up the phone without saying ´bye´ but this is seen as very impolite in the UK.

Bibi Hughes, Studio 3 intern from the UK