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Making a phone call in French: essential words and phrases with dialogues + exercise

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

Speaking on the phone, is a routine for all of us, but having a phone conversation in French is not for some of us. However, it can be easy if you know the essential words and expressions generally used in a phone call.

In this article, I will share with you common words, verbs and expressions used to talk on the phone, from answering, introducing yourself to ending a phone call. Keep on reading till the end, to take the practice quiz.


1. How to answer the phone in French?


The first step of a phone call is greetings. We always say Allo, the magic word to start the conversation, followed with usual greetings like bonjour, Bonsoir or Salut. And then, you ask for your interlocutor. As in any language, you may get through him or you may be asked to call back or leave a message. We won't follow these steps as they are the same in any language, however, we'll try to focus on the key vocabulary you need for a successful conversation on the phone in French.


And if you want to extend your vocabulary, or improve your pronunciation and listening skills, there is that tool I have been using recently and that is great! You can watch movies or TV shows in French, with the captions, and whenever you don't know a word, you can click on it and see its meaning. All the new words learned are automatically transformed into Flashcards that you can review easily later after. They don't have tons of movies like Netflix, but you can find interesting ones depending on your interest and to my point of view, it is an awesome way for improving your language skills. Luckily, they have a 7 day free trial and You can learn more here.



On the phone_French vocabulary


Let's start with some basics terms like how to say a phone call in standard French and slang, a phone number, phone book, ...


2. Basic phone words in French


When talking about the phone, there are some basic words to know. Below is a list of these terms with their English translation.

  • Un appel (téléphonique): a phone call

  • un coup de fil (slang): a phone call

  • un téléphone fixe: a land line

  • un téléphone portable/mobile: a cell phone / smartphone

  • une ligne (téléphonique): a line

  • un bip: a beep

  • un réseau: a network

  • un combiné téléphonique: a telephone handset

  • un numéro de téléphone: a phone number

  • un annuaire: a phone book


3. How to introduce yourself or identify your interlocutor?


To introduce yourself during a phone call in French, you can say for instance:

  • C'est +name => C'est Chantal;

  • C'est+ name + à l'appareil => C'est Chantal à l'appareil

  • C'est+ name + au bout du fil => C'est Chantal au bout du fil


When it is a professional phone call, you could start by telling your name followed by the name of the company you work for. E.g. (Chantal Briba de la societe Learn French With Chanty)


When you don't know who is calling, and you would like to know who the person's identity, you can use following questions to identify your interlocutor.

  • C'est qui s'il vous plaît? => Who is this?

  • Qui est-ce? => Who is this?

  • Vous êtes? => You are ?

  • C'est de la part de qui? => Who is it from?

  • Qui dois-je annoncer? => Who should I announce?

  • Votre nom sil vous plaît => Your name, please.


4. How to ask for your interlocutor?


Here are some phrases you could use to request speaking to your contact person.

  • Bonjour, je voudrais parler à + name or profession of the person (e.g. Je voudrais parler a Alice sil vous plait / Je voudrais parler au DRH sil vous plait)

  • Puis-je parler à +name or title?

  • Monsieur Dupond / Le DRH s'il vous plait

  • Pourriez-vous me passer Mme Durand s'il vous plaît ?

Sometimes, before you start asking, you may want to make sure you are speaking to the right person. Here are few sentences you might want to use.


  • Allo, c'est + name. Allo, c'est Jeanne?

  • Je suis bien chez les Martin?

  • C'est bien la societe...?

  • Je suis bien au + numero?



5. Ways to say hold on in French


There are different ways of saying hold on in the French language. Here are some of the possible expressions.


  • un moment s'il vous plaît:: a moment please

  • veuillez patienter s'il vous plaît: please hold on

  • Gardez l'ecoute, sil vous plaît: please, stay on line

  • Restez en ligne, sil vous plaît: please stay on line

  • Ne quittez pas, SVP: Please, don't hang up

If you are unfamiliar with the expression veuillez patienter, check out the lesson on how to use the verb vouloir in the imperative tense.




6. French expressions used on the phone


During phone interactions, you may have several situations: an absent interlocutor, leaving a message or taking a message, reasons for calling, ...

Below are few sentences commonly used in a French phone conversation.

  • Il n'est pas là en ce moment => He is not here right now

  • Il n'est pas disponible => He is not available

  • Je peux prendre un message? =>Can I take a message?

  • Je peux laisser un message? Can I leave a message?

  • Vous souhaitez lui laisser un message? => Do you want to leave him/her a message?

  • Pourriez-vous lui dire que j'ai appelé? => Could you tell him I called?

  • Je te la passe/je te le passe => I will put you through

  • Ne quitte pas => stay online/don't hang up

  • Il y a un appel pour toi/vous => There is a phone call for you

  • Je vais t'appeler / je vais vous appeler: I will call you

  • Je te rappelle / je vous rappelle: I will call you back

  • Désolée j'ai raté ton appel (Sorry, I missed your phone call)


For business phone calls, you can. use some of the following phrases.

  • Quel est l'objet de votre appel?=> What is the purpose of your call?

  • C'est à quel sujet? => What is it about?

  • Je voudrais prendre rendez-vous avec ... => I would like to take an appointment with...

  • Quel est votre numéro de téléphone? What is your phone number?

  • Vous avez de quoi noter? Do you have something to take notes?


7. Common verbs used in French


Knowing the usual verbs used in a phone call will make things easier for you. You can refer to the list below for the important verbs used during a phone talk.

  • Téléphoner à quelqu'un: to call someone on the phone

  • Appeler quelqu'un: to call someone

  • Recevoir un appel: to receive a phone call

  • Composer un numéro: to dial a number

  • Décrocher: to pick up a call

  • Raccrocher: to hang up

  • Patienter: to hold on

  • Parler à: to speak to

  • Passer le téléphone à quelqu'un: to. pass someone through

  • Interrompre un appel: to interrupt /drop a call

  • Être entrecoupé: to be cut off

  • Joindre quelqu'un: to reach someone/to get someone through the line

  • sonner: to ring

  • Être hors réseau: to be out of service

  • parler au téléphone : to talk on the phone





8. Dealing with communication problems


If ever, you have some communications issues like a line not clear, or wrong number or low battery, here are some examples of sentences that might be of great help.

  • Je ne t'entends pas, tu peux répéter? => I can't hear you, can you repeat?

  • Tu m'entends? => Do you hear me?

  • Tu peux parler plus fort? => Can you speak louder?

  • Nous allons bientôt être coupés => We are going to be cut off soon.

  • On a ete coupés=> we were cut off

  • La liaison a été interrompue => the line was cut off

  • La communication est mauvaise=> the line is bad

  • Vous vous trompez de numéro => You mistakenly called the wrong number.

  • Desole (e), Je me suis trompé (e) de numéro => Sorry, I mistakenly dialed the wrong number.

  • Je n'ai presque plus de batterie => I almost have no battery.



9.Phone conversation examples in French


On the phone: Conversation script 1

- Allo, Je voudrais parler a Julie.

- C'est de la part de qui?

- C'est Anne.

- Ah Anne, c'est Sophie. Ne quitte pas, je te la passe.


Translation

_ Hello I would like to speak to Julie

- Who is calling?

- It's Ann

- Ah Ann, it's Sophie. Hold on, I will put you through.


On the phone: Conversation script 2


- Allo, French Learning Center, Bonjour !

- Bonjour Madame, Cathetine Dupré de la societe Fendome, Je voudrais parler au DRH sil vous plaît.

- C'est à quel sujet?

- C'est concernant une offre de formation que nous vous avons envoyée la semaine dernière.

- Un instant, je vous prie.

(Une minute plus tard)

- Désolée, le directeur est en réunion. Vous souhaitez lui laisser un message?

- Euh, je vais peut être rappeler plus tard. Quel est le meilleur moment pour le joindre?

- Essayez peut être dans l'apres-midi.

- Parfait. Je rappellerai alors à 16h. Merci et passez une excellente journée..

- Merci madame. Au revoir


Translation

- Hello, French Learning Center, Good morning !

- Hello Madam, Catherine Dupre form the Fendome Company. I would like to speak to the HR please.

- What is it about?

- It's regarding a training offer that we've sent you last week

- one moment please

-Sorry the director is in a meeting. Do you want to leave him a message?

- Euh, I am going to call later. What is the best moment to have him?

- Try may be in the afternoon.

- Perfect! I'll then call at 4 pm.Thank you and have an excellent day. .

- Thank you Ma'am, Goodbye!



10.Practice Exercise


Below is an exercise to practice on the common verbs. Just follow the instructions.


=> Fill in the blanks with the following words: Portable - Joindre - Rappeler - Appeler - Decrocher -


Allo?

C'est Lucie. Je n'arrive pas à _______ Stéphanie. . Je l'____________ en vain depuis ce matin. Son ____________ doit être hors réseau. Pourriez-vous lui demander de me ________ le plus tôt possible? J'ai aussi appelé son service mais personne ne _______________. Quelle galère! C'est pourtant urgent.


Answers below ⬇️⬇️⬇️





Answers:


Allo?

C'est Lucie. Je n'arrive pas à joindre Stéphanie. . Je l'appelle en vain depuis ce matin. Son portable doit être hors réseau. Pourriez-vous lui demander de me rappeler le plus tôt possible? J'ai aussi appelé son service mais personne ne décroche. Quelle galère! C'est pourtant urgent.


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