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There are certain telephone phrasal verbs that ESL students need to know if they want to communicate well using the telephone.
The telephone is still a vital part of everyday business life, with most employees having at least one phone call per day. Native speakers use phrasal verbs very often when they speak.
Let’s take a closer look at telephone phrasal verbs commonly used in telephone conversations in English.
List of 15 Telephone Phrasal Verbs in English
- to call back
- to call up
- to cut off
- to get back to someone
- to get through
- to hang up
- to put someone through
- to pass on
- to hold on
- to pick up
- to get off
- to switch off
- to switch on
- to break up
- to speak up
English Telephone Phrasal Verbs with Meanings and Examples
TO CALL BACK – to telephone someone (again) later
We can also say to ring back or to phone back.
Ex. I am sorry, but this number is engaged. Would you like to call back later?
TO CALL UP – to telephone someone
We can also say to ring up or to phone up.
Ex. I rang up to cancel my gym membership.
I called up the clinic yesterday to make an appointment with my doctor.
TO CUT OFF – to lose a telephone connection. We can also use it in passive form – to be cut off, to get cut off
Ex. Sorry, I ran out of credit, and we got cut off.
If you don’t pay your phone bill on time, the phone company will cut you off.
TO GET BACK TO SOMEONE – to telephone someone later
Ex. Sorry, I am in the meeting right now, can I get back to you in twenty minutes?
TO GET THROUGH – to get a telephone connection with someone
Ex. I can’t get through to Dad, he doesn’t answer his phone.
TO HANG UP – end a telephone conversation (often abruptly).
Ex. I am not sure what happened, Jane just hung up in the middle of the conversation!
We can also use hang up with preposition on if someone hangs up on you. Quite often it means that the other person was frustrated or upset.
Ex. He hung up on me.
I can’t believe she hung up on me!
TO PUT SOMEONE THROUGH – to connect someone on the phone
Ex. Could you put me through to Mr. White, please, on extension 316?
TO HOLD ON – wait (for a short time). Generally we use it in imperative form.
Ex. Please hold on the line, I’ll put you through.
TO PICK UP – to answer a phone call
Ex. I tried calling her last night but she didn’t pick up.
TO GET OFF (the phone) – to finish talking on the phone
Ex. I should get off the phone, I have so much to do.
I’ve just got off the phone with Mum, she is keeping well.
TO SWITCH OFF – to disconnect using the power button
Ex. You should switch off your laptop during take-off and landing.
We can also say TO TURN OFF.
TO SWITCH ON – to connect using the power button
Ex. You shouldn’t switch on your mobile phone after landing until you are in the terminal building.
We can also say TURN ON.
TO SPEAK UP – to speak louder
Ex. I’m afraid I didn’t hear you very well, the line is very bad. Could you speak up a little please?
TO BREAK UP – the line is quite bad and you can’t hear a person on a call clearly (usually when talking on a mobile)
Ex. Sorry, you are breaking up, I didn’t hear that very well. Could you repeat, please?
TO RING OFF – to finish a telephone conversation
Ex. I have to ring off now, but I’ll give you a call tomorrow.
TO PUT DOWN (the phone) – to end a telephone conversation
Ex. Put your phone down and do your homework!
TO PASS ON (a message) – to communicate (to convey) a message to someone else
Ex. I’m sorry, John is not at his desk at the moment. I’ll pass the message on as soon as he comes back.
More Information - Phrasal Verbs and More
For more information on English Phrasal Verbs, English Grammar Rules and English Idioms in context, check out the following links:
Useful Telephone English Phrases - Video Lesson
In this short English video lesson you will learn telephone English expressions.
Give a reason for calling
- Can I speak to someone about …?
- Can you put me through to …?
- The reason I’m calling is …
- I’m phoning/calling to …
- It’s with regard to …
- It’s in relation to …
- It’s about …
Connecting the Caller
- One moment, I’ll put you through (to)
- Let me see if he/she is available …
- I’ll try his number for you
- I’ll connect you (to)
- I’ll transfer you (to)
Telephone Phrases - Infographic
Asking the caller to wait
- One moment
- Would you like to hold?
- Can I put you on hold?
- Please hold
- Are you OK to wait for a couple of minutes?
- I’ll need to put you on hold for just a moment
- Are you able to hold while I …
- Just bear with me for a moment
- Hang on a second (informal)