On the Telephone – Choose Best Words and Expressions


Complete these dialogues with words and expressions from the box.

automated services * call back * camping on the line * connect * convenient * cut off dead * direct line * engaged * extension * get back * hang on * hash * hold the line * hung up * junk calls * message * on behalf of * on hold * put through * speaking * star * switchboard * tone * voicemail * zeroing out

1. Caller: Could I speak to Jennifer Thompson in Accounts, please?
Receptionist: I’m afraid her line is ________ at the moment. Shall I get her to ________ you ________ (you need one expression for these two gaps)?

2. Caller: Oh, hello, could you ________ me ________ (you need one expression for these two gaps) to Ron Atkinson, please?
Receptionist: Certainly. ________ please.

3. Caller: Hello. Adam Harrison, please.
Receptionist: He’s out of the office, I’m afraid, but I can ________ you and you can leave a ________ on his ________, if you like.
Caller: No, that’s OK. I’ll try again later. When would be a ________ time?

4. Speaker 1: Oh no, not again!
Speaker 2: What’s up?
Speaker 1: I’m trying to call my credit card company, and I’ve got one of those stupid ________.
Speaker 2: Well, try ________. You might get through to a real human being.
Speaker 1: OK. Oh, the line’s gone ________. I’ve been ________.

5. Answering Hello. This is Anthony Roberts. I’m not in the office at the moment, machine: but if you leave your name and number after the ________, I’ll ________ to you.

6. Speaker 1: Bob’s been on the phone for ages.
Speaker 2: I know. He’s calling our supplier, but they’ve put him ________. He’s been ________ for over ten minutes!

7. Speaker 1: (Answering the phone) Hello?
Recorded Hello there. I’m Sandy from Moneygrubbers International, and I’m delighted to message: tell you that you have been personally selected from a list of literally millions to receive a fantastic travel offer.
Speaker 2: Who is it?
Speaker 1: (putting down the phone): Oh, just one of those irritating ________.

8. Mr Floyd: (Answering the phone) Hello?
Telemarketer: Oh, hello. Could I speak to Mr Floyd, please?
Mr Floyd: ________.
Telemarketer: Good evening, Mr Floyd. I’m Tim Spanner, and I’m calling ________ Superglaze Windows. I was wondering if…
Mr Floyd: (Says nothing, but puts the phone down)
Telemarketer: Oh dear. That’s the fifth one who’s ________ on me today.

9. Caller: Hello. Could I have Sarah Knowles’ ________ please?
Receptionist: Well, actually, she has a ________, which means you can by-pass the ________ the next time you call. If you ________ a moment, I’ll get you her number.

10. Speaker 1: How do I access my messages on this phone?
Speaker 2: Press zero, then the ________ key. That’s the little asterisk at the bottom of the keypad. Then press zero again, followed by the ________ key.
Speaker 1: Which one’s that?
Speaker 2: The key with the four vertical and horizontal lines crossing one another.

Correct Answers:

  1. engaged / call…back
  2. put…through / Hold the line
  3. connect / message / voicemail / convenient
  4. automated services / zeroing out (= pressing the zero key in the hope that you will speak to someone) / dead / cut off
  5. tone / get…back
  6. on hold / camping on the line (= waiting on hold or a long time)
  7. junk calls (= unsolicited cold calls from companies trying to sell you something)
  8. Speaking (= I am the person you want to speak to) / on behalf of / hung up
  9. extension / direct line / switchboard / hang on
  10. star (= *) / hash (= #)
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