Far from going the way of the telegraph, the telephone – thanks to the iPhone and other smartphones – has become our constant digital companion. Even though some of its functions are duplicated by online messaging and on social networks, the telephone remains vital – and so, too, does the vocabulary related to it. Here to help are some common phone-related phrasal verbs:
Call … Up / – to call someone (by surprise/who is not expecting the call)
- I’m planning to call my high school friend up while I’m in town for the holiday weekend.
Call … Back/ – to return a call
- Ms. Saunders isn’t available right now. Can she call you back when she gets out of the meeting?
Note: This phrasal verb has an alternate meaning with the same structure.
Call … Back/ – to call again
- Nobody answered when I called, so I’ll call back in the morning.
Hang up/ – to end a call
- After I hung up, I realized that I had forgotten to get the address of the restaurant, so I called her back.
Hang up on/ – to end a call without waiting for a conversation to end
- When I told my girlfriend that I wasn’t coming to her friend’s party because I had to work late, she got really angry and hung up on me.
Note: This phrasal verb is most commonly used when someone intentionally ends a call out of anger or frustration, but it is also used in cases when this happens by accident.
- I accidentally hung up on my boss during an important call because I got another call and pressed the wrong button.
Put … On Hold/ – to maintain a phone call in progress without the other person’s being able to hear you, usually in order to transfer a call.
- I called the customer service hotline to complain and they put me on hold for twenty minutes before a manager finally picked up the phone.
Don’t forget to visit our main phrasal verbs page for extra practice beyond phrasal verbs for the phone!