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

Updated: Apr 3

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