One-Point English Lesson: Telephone Vocabulary

Michael Uncategorized 4 Comments

Today, let’s have a look at the various words and phrases we use when we use the telephone.

Call is used as a verb to mean “communicate by telephone.” The structure is someone + call + someone:

  • Jane called me this morning.
  • I have to call Jack. Today’s his birthday.

When someone calls you, you need to answer the phone. This means you begin talking to the other person who called you. When we answer the phone, we usually say hello. When you are finished talking to the person, you hang up the phone or just hang up. If someone hangs up the phone before you finish the conversation, you can say they hung up on you.  It’s generally rude to hang up on someone, so that generally happens when someone is angry (ouch!)

When you want to talk to someone using a home phone, you pick up the receiver, which is the part of the phone you talk into and listen to. You then listen for the dial tone. The dial tone is the sound you hear in the receiver before you dial, which means to press the numbers on the keypad. Of course, there is no dial tone on a cell phone (US English)/ mobile phone (UK English). The keypad has the digits 0 to 9, and two special symbols. These are called the star (*) key and the pound (#) key.

If the person you are calling is already talking to someone, you might hear a beeping tone called the busy signal. Otherwise, your call may go to voicemail. Voicemail is also called an answering machine and is a machine or system that lets you leave a message. If there is any kind of technical problem you may find that your call does not go through. Sometimes this happens if you are in a bad cell zone which is an area where the cell phone signal is weak.

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