Parler au téléphone sans bafouiller ?

Les mots clés et expressions:

Pick up the telephone (to)

Definition : to answer the telephone.

Translation : Décrocher 

Busy signal (usa) / engaged tone (uk)

Definition : a beeping sound that informs the caller that the oher person is on the telephone with someone else.

Translation : Ligne occupée 

Call (usa) / to ring (uk) (to)

Definition : to use the telephone to talk to someone.

Translation : Appeler 

Call back / to phone back (to)

Definition : to call someone who called you first ; to return someone's call.

Translation : Rappeler 

Dial (to)

Definition : to push the numbers on the phone.

Translation : Composer 


Definition : internal numbers in a company.

Translation : Numéro de poste 

Have the wrong number (to)

Definition : To misdial ; to push the wrong numbers on the telephone.

Translation : Faire un faux numéro 

Call display / caller is

Definition : shows the caller's number on your telephone.

Translation : Affichage du numéro 

Mr (or mrs x) in ?

Definition : informal meaning to ask if Mr (or Mrs) X is in the office.

Translation : M. (ou Mme W) est-il là ? 

Free to (to be)

Definition : to be available for a conversation.

Translation : Etre disponible 

Who's calling please ?

Definition : to ask the identity 

Translation : Qui est à l'appareil ? 

This is (name of caller)

Definition : to identify yourself on the telephone.

Translation : Un tel à l'appareil 

Put someone through (to)

Definition : to connect you to the correct person.

Translation : Transférer la communication 

To talk louder

Definition : to increase the volume of your voice.

Translation : Parler plus fort 

Hold the line (to)

Definition : to wait until the person is available to speak to you.

Translation : Patienter 

Screen calls (to)

Definition : to look at the phone display and to decide to answer a call based on the caller's identity.

Translation : Filtrer les appels 

Take a message (to)

Definition : to take information from a caller to give to someone else.

Translation : Prendre un message 

Leave a message (to)

Definition : to give information so that someone can call you back.

Translation : Laisser un message 

To get back to someone

Definition : to contact someone again.

Translation : Recontacter une personne 

Hang up (to)

Definition : to end a phone conversation ; to put the phone down.

Translation : Raccrocher 

Conference call

Definition : a telephone call with several participants, usually scheduled in advance.

Translation : Téléconférence 

Voice mail

Definition : an answering machine.

Translation : Boîte vocale 

Pound key

Definition : the # button on the lower right of the telephone.

Translation : Touche dièse 

Star key

Definition : the * button on the lower left of the telephone.

Translation : Touche etoile 

Page (to)

Definition : to call someone on a beeper.

Translation : Bipper 

Cell phone (usa) / mobile phone (uk)

Definition : a telephone that is not a landline.

Translation : Téléphone portable 

To break up

Definition : when you use a cellular telephone and the communication is not clear; temporarily lose communication.

Translation : Perdre le signal 

Les usages à respecter:

Always state your name and title or department when calling or receiving a phone call, even if it is your direct line.


• This is janet White, Sales Manager. How can I help you ?

• This is Jonathan Plant, Logistics Manager at Smythe Industries. May I speak with Mr. Penny, please ?

Do not leave someone on hold for more than one minute without returning to the caller and asking if the person would like to continue to hold or to leave a message.

Example :

• Mr. Plunk's line is still busy, would you like to continue to hold the line or would you like to leave a message ?

It is not uncommon for a secretary to ask you to leave a message directly on someone's voice mail. It does not mean that ypur call is unimportant. It is easier for the person you are calling to get your message.

Examples :

• Mrs. White is not available at the moment, would you like to leave a message on her voice mail ?

When spelling over the telephone to be understood clearly, we often use : 

A as in Alpha, B as in Bravo, C as in Charlie, D as in Delta, E as in Echo, F as in Foxtrot, G as in Golf, H as in Hotel, I as in India, J as in Juliet, K as un Kilo, L as in Lima, M as in Mike, N as in November, O as in Oscar, P as in Papa, Q as in Quebec, R as in Romeo, S as in Sierra, T as in Tango, U as in Uniform, V as Victor, W as Whiskey, X as X-ray, Y as in Yankee, Z as Zulu. This is the from the NATO phonetic alphabet created in 1950's.

Quelques règles de bon anglais:

Quand utiliser could / can plutôt que may ?

When using the telephone, we often use modal verbs. These are verbes that do not have a 's' in third person singular an do not use the auxiliary (do/does/don't/ doesn't).


• May Mr Stumble call you back in 5 minutes ?

• He can't speak to you at the moment, he is with a client

• He could call you on Wednesday if you like

In the past 'can' was used to explain ability ('she can write business letters') and 'may' was used for permission or request ('May she call you tomorrow afternoon ?'). However as with all languages, it has evolved and today it is not uncommon to hear : 'can she call you tomorrow afternoon ?' 'could' is more formal than 'can'.


Fill in the missing word(s), then check the result below :

voice mail, busy signal, page, hung up, to hold, is breaking, Pick up the telephone, put you through, caller ID, conference call, extension, is bob in ?, have the wrong number, dial, speak up, take a message, to leave a message, call/phone back, who's calling please ?, This is, get back, pound key, screening my calls, star key, page

1. I was in a meeting, so it was my secretary who ............

2. I have tried calling the client all day but I keep getting a ............, I will try again later.

3. My secretary gave me a list of messages, there are three client must ............

4. After the conversation, I ............ and immediatly thought of another idea so I called him back

5. Every time I call customer support, I have ............ for at least five munutes before they pick up.

6. I am driving through a tunnel and the connection ............, I'll call you back.

7. Caller : May I speak to Mr. Smith please. Receptionnist : just one moment I will ............

8. I have ............ so I know who is calling

9. I want to avoid speaking with my supplier for the moment, so I am ............

10. Please put me through ............ 978 please

11. Formal : Is bob available ? Or informal : ............ ? 

12. May I speak to Mr. Dupont please ? I am sorry there is no Mr. Dupont here, you must ............

13. To make a phone call, first I must ............ the number

14. I can't hear you very well, please .............

15. Secretary : Mrs Jones is not here at the moment, can I ............ ?

16. I would like ............ for Mrs Peters. Tell her that I will be at the meeting this afternoon and if she wants more information she can call me on my cell phone.

17. Caller : i would like to speak to Mr. Carter. Rceptionist : ............ ? Caller : this is mister Wells

18. The suppliers are in China, the head office is in England and our office is in France ; in order to have a productive discussion, we should hold a ............, so that all the participants can comment on the project.

19. Secretary : Who's calling please ? Caller : ............ deborah.

20. Most companies have ............, so that you can chech your message even when you are not in the office.

21. Thank you very much Mr Smith, I will ............ you on thursday with the details you asked me for

22. One you have finished leaving a message, please push the ............ for more options

23. To skip to the end of your voice message, please press the ............ 

24. John, doesn't have a cell phone but you can ............ him on his beeper and he will call you back as son as possible


SOLUTIONS : 1 : Pick up the telephone, 2 : busy signal, 3: call/phone back, 4 : hung up, 5 : to hold, 6 : is breaking, 7 : put you through, 8 : caller ID, 9 : screening my calls, 10 : extension, 11 : is bob in ?, 12 : have the wrong number, 13 : dial, 14 : speak up, 15 : take a message, 16 : to leave a message. 17 : who's calling please ?, 18 : conference call, 19 : This is, 20 : voice mail, 21 : get back, 22 : pound key, 23 : star key, 24 : page

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