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Answering the Phone in Spanish: Useful Vocabulary and Expressions

written by: Heather Marie Kosur • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 1/6/2012

Answering the phone in Spanish should not be a difficult thing to do. By learning the vocabulary and expressions in this article, you will be able to understand and be understood. This article covers the basics on a Spanish language phone call and some expressions and vocabulary used at work.

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    On the Phone in Spanish

    When learning a language, the idea of answering a phone or trying to have a phone conversation may seem very scary to some students maybe because the only possible way of communication over the phone is language. That is, there are no clues or non-verbal language helping us understand what a native Spanish speaker wants to tell us.

    The vocabulary, expressions, and advice in the following sections will help any student lose their fear of talking on the phone in Spanish. The first step will be studying and recognizing Spanish vocabulary and expressions related to a phone call.

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    Common Expressions

    • Hello: Dígame. OR Diga. (These are the most common ways, but you can also say ¿Sí?, which is a less formal way of answering the phone.)
    • Can I speak to...?: ¿Puedo hablar con...?
    • I'd like to speak to...: Me gustaría hablar con... OR Quería hablar con...
    • Who's calling, please?: ¿De parte de quién? OR ¿Quien le llama?
    • I am...: Soy....
    • Sorry, he/she is not here right now.: Lo siento, él/ella no está aquí ahora mismo.
    • Can I leave a message?: ¿Puedo dejar un recado?

    These are the basic expressions to be used when speaking on the phone in Spanish.

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    • (la) cabina telefónica: phone booth
    • colgar: to hang up
    • (el) contestador (automático): answering machine
    • dejar un mensaje: to leave a message
    • descolgar el teléfono: to pick up the phone
    • enviar un mensaje de texto or enviar un sms: to send a text message
    • estar comunicando: the line is busy
    • (la) guía telefónica / (la) guía de teléfonos: phone book
    • (la) línea: line
    • (la) llamada: phone call
    • (la) llamada a cobro revertido: collect charge call
    • (la) llamada de larga distancia: long distance call
    • (la) llamada gratuita: toll free
    • (la) llamada internacional: international call
    • (la) llamada local: local call
    • llamar por teléfono: to call
    • llamar más tarde: to call back later
    • mantenerse a la espera: to hold on
    • marcar (un número de teléfono): to dial (a pbone number)
    • (el) número de teléfono: phone number
    • pasar a alguien con...: To put somebody through to...
    • (la) rellamada: redial
    • sonar (teléfono): to ring
    • (el) teléfono: phone
    • (el) teléfono móvil OR (el) móvil: cell phone
    • (el) tono, (la) señal: tone
    • volver a marcar: to redial
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    At Work

    Apart from the abovementioned expressions, it is important to know some specific forms specifically used in a company or at work including all the expressions used by a secretary:

    • (Name of the company), dígame. OR (Name of the company), buenos días/ uenas tardes.
    • ¿En qué puedo ayudarle?: May I help you?
    • ¿Quién le llama, por favor?: Who's calling, please?
    • Le paso; un momento, por favor.: I’ll put you through; one moment, please
    • Un momento, por favor.: Please hold on.
    • El señor / La señora (name) no está disponible en este momento.: Mr./Mrs. (name) is not available right now.
    • ¿Quiere dejar un mensaje/recado?: Do you want to leave him/her a message?
    • Le diré que usted ha llamado.: I'll tell him/her about your phone call.
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    No Thank You - I'm Not Interested

    Sometimes the phone rings in an effort to sell the unsuspecting answerer something! So, here are some polite ways to say "No, thank you!"

    • Lo siento, pero no me interesa.: Sorry, but I am not interested in it.
    • Perdone, para ahora no tengo tiempo para hablar por teléfono.: Sorry, but I haven't got time now to talk on the phone.
    • Perdone que le interrumpa, pero esta no es la primera vez que ustedes me llaman para hablar sobre esto.: Excuse me if I interrupt you, but this is not the first time you called me to talk about this.
    • No, le digo de nuevo que no estoy interesado/interesada en su producto.: No, I'm telling you again, I am not interested in your product.
    • Por favor, déjeme pensarlo.: Please, let me think about it.
    • No, lo siento, ya tengo el producto que usted quiere venderme.: No, sorry, I already have the product you are trying to sell me.
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    A Final Note

    Phone call vocabulary and expressions may vary not only depending on the Spanish speaking country but also on the area or region. Anyway, by knowing the basics, Spanish language students will be able to understand anyone on the phone, and, along the same lines, native Spanish speakers will be able to understand a Spanish language learner. So, the best way to lose that fear of talking on the phone is practicing.

    To download the list of vocabulary used in this article, please refer to the supplementary Spanish on the Phone Vocabulary Sheet. To download the sound file with the vocabulary, please listen to the Spanish on the Phone Vocabulary sound file.