English speaking: Phone messages

This page gives you useful phrases for taking and leaving phone messages in English.

English pronunciation tips

Be careful with the pronunciation of letters (if you need to spell someone's name, for example.)

Vowels
A – rhymes with 'say'
E – rhymes with 'he'
I – sounds the same as 'eye'
O – rhymes with 'so'
U – sounds the same as 'you'

Consonants
G – rhymes with 'he'
J – rhymes with 'say'
K – rhymes with 'say'
R – sounds the same as 'are'
V – rhymes with 'he'
W – pronounced "double u"
X – pronounced /eks/
Y – sounds the same as 'why'

You can also give a word beginning with the letter, as in "a for apple".

For example, "Did you say 'a' for apple, or 'e' for energy?

Practise your listening!

Listen to six telephone conversations. You can also read the tapescript as you listen.

Taking a message on the phone

When someone calls and asks to speak to a person who isn't there, offer to take a message. You can use phrases like "Would you like to leave a message?" or "Can I take a message?"

Conversation 1 – Taking a message

Can I speak to John please?
He's not here at the moment. Would you like to leave a message?
Oh that's OK. I'll call back later.

Conversation 2 – Taking a message

Is Julie there?
Afraid not. Can I take a message?
Yeah, could you ask her to call Dave back.

("Afraid not" = "Sorry, he's not here".)

Conversation 3 – Taking a message

I'm calling about the ad for a TV for sale.
OK. Can I take your name and number?
Sure. It's Suzie, and my number is…

Asking to leave a message

If the person you speak to doesn't offer to take a message, ask with a phrase like "Can I leave a message?" or "Could you take a message?"

Conversation 1 – Asking to leave a message

I'm afraid Dave's not at his desk right now.
Could you ask him to call me back, please?
Sure, what's your number?

Conversation 2 – Asking to leave a message

Sarah isn't in today, I'm afraid.
Oh. Can I leave a message for her?
Sure. Let me get a pen.

Conversation 3 – Asking to leave a message

June won't be back until later this afternoon.
Could you take a message for me?
Of course.


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