Essential language to understand your telephone partner
In this call Simon Anderson returns Elon Munk’s call as Elon had left a message for Simon to call him back.
After introducing yourself, as you learnt how to do in the first unit Answering the Call Confidently, here are a few phrases you can use when you are returning someone’s call.
Its ________(your name) from __________( your company name)
TIP – Always introduce yourself with your name and your company name
Returning your call, as promised.
I’m returning your call.
Sorry it took me so long to get back to you.
Sorry it took me so long to return your call.
And when someone returns your call, you thank them with the following phrases:
Thanks for calling me back.
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.
Thanks for returning my call.
Often, when we’re not expecting a phone call in English, we are surprised and get a little stressed. Here are a few things you can say to give you some time to prepare yourself.
I’m sorry could you excuse me for one minute while I get a pen?
I’m sorry could you hold the line while I look for (pull up) that email?
I’m sorry I have a meeting. Can I call you back in half an hour?
It is common, even for native speakers, not to understand what the other person said, because of a bad line or the person was speaking too quickly. This is what we normally say when this happens.
If you couldn’t hear what the person said
Sorry / Pardon?
I’m sorry/I’m afraid I didn’t quite catch that, could you repeat it again please?
TIP – We use the word “catch” here as a synonym to “understand”. It doesn’t mean anything was thrown.
Sorry, the line is bad, could you say that again please?
Sorry, could you say that again please (a little slower / a little louder)?
If you don’t understand what they said
Sorry I don’t follow you.
I’m afraid I (still) don’t know what you mean.
Sorry, can you repeat the first word/ the last part/…?
To check you’ve understood
Let me just check I’ve understood you correctly.
Let me summarise what we’ve agreed / just discussed.
Let me read that back to you.
So you said …
Do you mean ..
Often we have to arrange for another call because the line is bad, as in our telephone call example, or if someone is not free to speak or if you need some time to look for some information. This is what you can say to ask to call back.
Arranging for another call
Can I call you back (a little) later?
TIP – We can use “a little later” to say that we won’t take too long to call back.
Could you possibly call again (a little) later?
I can’t hear you very well. Shall we hang up and try again?
I’ll check on that and call you (right) back.
TIP – Using “call you right back” means you will call them back immediately.
Could you (possibly) find out and call me back?
TIP – Using “possibly” in front of an action verb (find, do, call…) is a polite way of asking someone to do something
In the previous lesson, we learnt a few phrases to end a call. Here are more sentences you can use.
If someone asked you for something during the call
Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.
TIP – we normally say this when we couldn’t help the person
Please call again if you have any other questions/ problems/…
Can I help you with anything else?
Or if they helped you
Thanks for (all) your help.
Thanks for being so helpful.
I appreciate your help.
Thanks for calling/ your call.
It was a pleasure speaking with you.
Speak to you then/ tomorrow/ soon/ later.
TIP – You can say this if you will be speaking to the person again.
Now you’ll have a chance to check your understanding of these key phrases.