Telephone Spanish 1.1: The absolute basics

telephone spanish for the phone

Le atiende Rosa López, ¿en qué puedo ayudarle?

Learning how to speak on the phone in Spanish.

Welcome to the first in our series of classes on speaking on the phone in Spanish.

While we started to write this course with the business user in mind, we’ve included a lot of phrases and expressions which you can apply to informal telephone calls as well.

In this lesson we are going to learn everything you need to start both formal and informal phone calls in Spanish.

After finishing the lesson you will be able to do the following:

  • Answer a call (formal or informal)
  • Start a formal call
  • Talk about the phone and related actions

Vocabulario telefónico básico.

Let’s start learning/reviewing the essential vocabulary connected with phone calls. Notice that in some cases Latin American Spanish (LAm) uses a word different from the one used in Spain (Sp). Don’t forget that nouns in Spanish can be either masculine (m) or feminine (f).

ACCIONES

  • encender el teléfono = switch on the phone
  • telefonear = call / phone
  • llamar por teléfono = call / phone
  • marcar un número = dial a number
  • el teléfono suena = the phone rings
  • contestar el teléfono = to answer the phone
  • colgar = to hang up
  • apagar el teléfono = to switch off the phone

OBJETOS

  • teléfono fijo (m) = land line
  • celular (m) (LAm) = cell/mobile phone
  • móvil (m) (Sp) = cell/mobile phone
  • contestador (m) = answering machine
  • fax (m) = fax machine
  • línea (telefónica) (f) = (phone) line

PARTES DE UN TELÉFONO

  • receptor (m) (LAm) = receiver
  • auricular (m) (Sp) = receiver
  • buzón de voz (m) = voicemail
  • correo de voz (m) = voicemail
  • teclado (m)= keypad
  • pantalla (f) = screen
  • batería (f) = battery
  • cargador (m) = charger

Haciendo una llamada

Here are the beginnings of some phone conversations. Explanatory notes have been added after each conversation. 

Phone conversation 1

El móvil de Ana suena. ¡¡Ring, ring!! En la pantalla aparece un número desconocido.

Ana. ¿Sí?

Eva. Hola Ana, soy Eva.

Ana. Ay, hola Eva. No sabía que eras tú, no tengo este número en mis contactos.

Notes

1. “¿Sí?” is a very common way to answer a call in Spain, in Latin American countries people usually say “¿Aló?

2. To identify ourselves on the phone, we use the verb “be”, as in English, but in a different way:

  • (yo) soy Eva
    this is Eva / it’s Eva

3. Don’t forget that in Spanish we don’t usually use the subject pronouns (yo, tú, él, etc.) with the verbs:

  • (yo) No sabía que eras tú
    I didn’t know it was you
  • (yo) no tengo este número en mis contactos
    I don’t have this number in my contacts

Phone conversation 2

El móvil de Ana suena otra vez. Otro número desconocido.

Ana. ¿Sí?

Teleoperador.  Buenos días, ¿podría hablar con Ana Rodríguez, por favor?

Ana. Sí, soy yo.

Teleoperador. Buenos días, la llamo porque quería informarle de las ventajas de la nueva tarjeta Gasta Mucho.

Notes

1. This call is more formal; the telemarketer has never met Ana before and wants to make sure she is speaking to the right person. That is why she starts the call with:

  •  ¿Podría hablar con Ana Rodríguez, por favor?
    Could I speak to Ana Rodríguez, please?

2. Notice again the use of “be” to identify either ourselves or someone else on the phone:

  • Sí, soy yo
    Yes, it’s me.
  • ¿Eres tú, Eva?
    Is it you, Eva?
  • ¿Es usted, señora Rodríguez?
    Is it you, Mrs Rodríguez?
  • Es él/ella
    It’s him/her

3. As it is a formal call, the telemarketer is addressing Ana in formal terms. Notice the use of the object pronouns related to the formal form “usted”:

  • la llamo porque quería informarle
    I’m calling because I’d like to inform you

If it had been a friend of Ana’s calling, they would have used the pronouns connected with “tú”:

  • te llamo porque quería informarte

Phone conversation 3

Ahora Ana hace una llamada a su banco.

Teleoperador. Buenas tardes,  Banco de Europa, le atiende  María Rodriguez ¿en qué puedo ayudarle?

Ana. Buenas tardes, llamo porque he perdido mi tarjeta de crédito y quisiera anularla.

Teleoperador. Muy bien. ¿Podría facilitarme su número de identificación, por favor?

Ana. Sí, es el 74729841…

Notes

1. Let’s break down the first sentence:

  • Buenas tardes, Banco de Europa

Initial greeting and name of the organisation

  • Le atiende María Gris

The customer care representative identifies herself

  • ¿En qué puedo ayudarle?

This means: How can I help you?

2. Notice how Ana uses the subjunctive “quisiera”, which sounds more polite than “quiero” and could be translated as I’d like to.

3. Muy bien is here a way to express acceptance, like ok. Other ways to express agreement or acceptance in a formal conversation are: De acuerdo; Vale

4. Notice again how the representative addresses Ana in formal terms:

  • ¿Podría facilitarme su numero de identificación?

As opposed to the more familiar way:

  • ¿Podrías facilitarme tu número de identificación?

Summary

In this lesson we have seen the basic phone vocabulary and three examples of how to start a phone call. In the first two, our friend Ana answers the calls, whereas in the last one it is her who makes the phone call. We have also seen some of the typical chunks used in these kinds of calls and the grammatical differences related to the degree of formality.