As you already know, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone back in the 19th century. Ever since it has developed quite a lot (all together with the phraseology related to it), and today we can hardly imagine our lives without them. In today’s lesson, you will find very useful 27+ telephone collocations and natural expressions connected to telephones and telephoning. Let’s look at them:

The verbs we normally use to make a telephone call are:

call, be on, dial, ring (up),

  • I’m on the phone (I’m talking to someone over the telephone)
  • I’ll call you later.
  • Will you dial (call) this number for me, please?
  • Martha gave me a ring yesterday.

The verbs we use to answer a telephone call are:

answer, get, pick up

  • I’m in the shower, will you please answer the phone?
  • The phone’s ringing. Will you get it/pick it up/answer it?
27+ Telephone Collocations

Go off/ring

The telephone usually goes off or it rings when someone is trying to reach you.

  • I was in the class when my telephone went off/rang. It was so embarrassing.

The line’s engaged/not available/busy

If you’re trying to get someone on the phone but you can’t, you can say that the line’s engaged/busy or they’re not available.

  • I’ve called Sandra several times, but the line was engaged/busy/she was not available.

Call someone back

Sometimes, you’re not able to answer the phone because you’re in the middle of doing something, so you can suggest calling them back.

  • Hi Rita. I’m driving at the moment, can I call you back later?
27+ Telephone Collocations
27+ Telephone Collocations

Return your call

It may happen that you’re trying to get someone on the phone, but they’re not answering it.

  • I’ve been trying to reach Sean a few times, but he hasn’t returned my calls.

Leave/take a message

When you call someone, and they’re not there but somebody else answers the phone, they may ask you to leave a message for the person you called and they’d pass it on to them. Or, you may be answered by a voicemail, which is a machine onto which you can leave your message.

  • I’m afraid Ronnie is not here at the moment. Would you like to leave him a message?
  • This is voicemail. The Tailors are not at home at present. If you wish, you can leave them a message.

If someone takes your message, then they pass your message to the person concerned.

  • Laura’s gone out but I can take the message for her.


Ringtone is the sound the phone makes when someone calls or when a text arrives.

  • The ringtone of your phone is so annoying. Can’t you change it?
27+ Telephone Collocations
27+ Telephone Collocations

Put someone on hold

If you are put on hold, you’ll have to wait until someone answers your call.

  • I’ll put you on hold until someone in the customer service department gets available.
Put someone through

When someone puts you through, they connect you to another person over the telephone.

  • Hold on a second, I’ll put you through to a colleague who might help you.

Get through to someone

Get through means to succeed in reaching someone on the phone.

  • Your line was busy all morning. I finally managed to get through to you.
27+ Telephone Collocations
27+ Telephone Collocations

Let’s mention some nouns frequently used with “telephone“.

Telephone interview – an interview conducted via telephone. They are usually conducted by journalists.
After we got home from holiday, a man from the newspaper asked us a few questions about the place we visited. It was a telephone interview.

Telephone survey – an examination of opinions made by asking people questions on the telephone.
More than half of the people examined in the telephone survey said that they prefer olive oil to sunflower oil.

Telephone conference/conference call – a telephone call that connects three or more people for purposes of a business meeting.
Most of her colleagues are scattered all around the world so she spends all day long on telephone conferences/conference calls.

Telephone banking service – related to a service a bank offers to its clients.
I rarely go to the bank since I’ve got a telephone banking service.

Telephone advice line – telephone service you can use if you need advice.
In case of suicidal thoughts, call the telephone advice line.

Telephone booking – an arrangement of something such as holiday, transport, etc. over the phone.
We made a telephone booking last week. We booked a room with a sea view.

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1 Comment

Zhanna · 25 Jul 2021 at 1:51 pm

Well done, thank you!

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