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Phrasal verbs about telephone

I want to focus on telephoning vocabulary… as this is one of the life skills my students often struggle with making phone calls in English… We also look at the phenomenon of telephone phobia (aka phone anxiety) which is an issue many people need to deal with and may especially be valid for learners of foreign language. On top of that, my plan includes a set of common telephone English phrases and and vocabulary.


Call … Up /
– to call someone (by surprise/who is not expecting the call)

  • I’m planning to call my high school friend up while I’m in town for the holiday weekend.

Call … Back/ – to return a call

  • Ms. Saunders isn’t available right now. Can she call you back when she gets out of the meeting?

Note: This phrasal verb has an alternate meaning with the same structure.

Call … Back/ – to call again

  • Nobody answered when I called, so I’ll call backin the morning.

Pick up – to answer the phone.

  • Example: The phone rang and rang and nobody picked up.

Hang up/ – to end a call

  • After I hung up, I realized that I had forgotten to get the address of the restaurant, so I called her back.

Hang up on/ – to end a call without waiting for a conversation to end

  • When I told my girlfriend that I wasn’t coming to her friend’s party because I had to work late, she got really angry and hung up on me.

Note: This phrasal verb is most commonly used when someone intentionally ends a call out of anger or frustration, but it is also used in cases when this happens by accident.

  • I accidentally hung up on my boss during an important call because I got another call and pressed the wrong button.

Put … On Hold/ – to maintain a phone call in progress without the other person’s being able to hear you, usually in order to transfer a call.

  • I called the customer service hotline to complain and they put me on hold for twenty minutes before a manager finally picked up the phone

Break – up: Become inaudible over the phone, usually because of a bad connection

Example: “Sorry, could you repeat that, please? You’re breaking up“.

Cut off: When a telephone call finishes because of a bad connection

Example: We were cut off in the middle of our conversation.

Get through: to connect somebody with somebody

Example: I finally got through to Nab on his cellphone.

TO HANG ON (informal) / TO HOLD ( formal)ON (to wait on the line)

  • Can you hang on a second?
  • Don’t go away. Just hold on a minute.
  • Can you hang on on the line, please? I will be right back.

Speak up: Speak louder

Example: Can you speak up a bit? It’s very noisy here.

Phone in– to make a telephone call to a place, for example to the place where you work+ adj.

Three people have phoned in sick already this morning.to make a telephone call to a place, for example to the place where you work+ adj.

Three people have phoned in sick already this morning.Phone in: to make a telephone call to a place,

for example to the place where you work+ adj. Three people have phoned in sick already this morning.

2 thoughts on “Phrasal verbs about telephone

  1. Thank you for lessons, you’re great teacher. I follow youtube and instagram. Lessons are helpful.
    I didn’t understand what does “phone in” means. Would you explain me, please? 🙂

    1. Thank you 🙂 to phone the place where you work in order to tell your employer something:
      She phoned in sick (= saying that she was ill) this morning.

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