You don’t want to phone in learning Spanish.
But you do probably need a little phone (vocab) in your Spanish learning.
After all, you never know when you’ll need to make or receive a phone call in Spanish.
While phone conversations are common, many Spanish learners overlook this important skill or assume that general conversation practice will prepare them.
However, there are many phrases that are specific to phone calls that you might not use in general conversation.
If you’re not prepared, speaking on the phone in Spanish can be a daunting task. You won’t have visual cues to help you along, and you need to make sure you avoid common mistakes.
That’s why you need to prepare ahead of time. Doing so can give you all the polite phrases you need to hold a successful phone conversation.
And never fear! We’re here to help!
This guide will help you prepare to hold a basic phone conversation in Spanish.
Why Learn How to Hold a Phone Conversation in Spanish?
One powerful reason to learn to hold a phone conversation in Spanish is to prepare for business calls. Even if you don’t expect to take Spanish-language phone calls for work, Spanish is very widely spoken, and you never know when you may need these skills. Being able to take a business call in Spanish will show respect for whoever you’re speaking with. Plus, it will probably impress your boss.
Additionally, knowing how to hold a phone conversation in Spanish will help you cultivate and maintain friendships. Let’s face it: most people are more confident speaking their native language. Even if your Spanish-speaking friends also speak English, being able to talk on the phone with them in Spanish will only strengthen your bond.
Finally, learning to hold a phone conversation in Spanish will allow you to call businesses to acquire information. If you’re ever in a Spanish-speaking country, chances are you’ll need to call a business at some point—maybe for dining reservations, hours of operation or to make a request. You can’t always count on businesses having someone on staff who speaks English, so being able to hold the conversation in Spanish is essential to you getting the information you need.
How to Practice for a Spanish Phone Conversation
- Test out your phone skills with a Spanish-speaking friend. You don’t even need to talk about anything in particular—just run through basic polite phrases to ensure you have them down. Whether you play through a standard phone conversation online, in person or using actual phones, testing your skills will help you see areas of weakness and also give you the boost you need to prepare you for higher pressure phone calls.
- Hold a conversation with yourself. Sure, talking to yourself can be awkward, but you can easily run through a standard phone call. This will help give you more confidence in speaking. Plus, since you’re playing both roles, you’ll have to practice twice as much as if you run through a phone conversation with someone else.
- Connect with native speakers. Fun, friendly online exchanges are great for practicing phone conversations. There are some helpful online resources like WeSpeke and Conversation Exchange that can connect you with native speakers for this purpose. You can often communicate via voice or video chat, which gives you the perfect opportunity to test out your phone skills. This is the most authentic way to practice your skills and expose yourself to what native Spanish speakers actually say on the phone.
- Practice with dialogues and other resources. Using sample conversations as guidance can help you along. Video or audio dialogues are particularly useful in showing you how a Spanish-language phone call might play out. The more you expose yourself to phone calls like this, the more confident you’ll be when the time comes for you to make a phone call.
YouTube is a good source for telephone dialogues and similar tools. For instance, Calico Spanish Songs for Kids offers a song about answering the telephone. LCF Clubs/Babelzone has another song on telephone conversations. Both songs teach common vocabulary and phrases you might use on phone. Plus, the songs are catchy, making them easy to memorize. This will allow you to always remember the words simply by playing through the songs in your head.
For a dialogue, you might try 123dialogues, which offers a useful mock telephone conversation.
You can also take it one step further by using FluentU to study up on your conversation skills.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos topics, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used.
Plus, if you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.
Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re studying with the same video.
The Ultimate Spanish Phone Conversation Cheat Sheet
Hola (“hello”) is a common greeting in person or on the phone. However, on the phone, it’s often inflected as a question rather than a statement. It’s the most common and widely understood Spanish greeting, so it’s a good choice for any phone conversation.
¿Aló? (“hello?”) is a common phone greeting used in Latin America. It’s very similar to hola, but is used primarily on the phone rather than in person. It’s also less formal.
3. Buenos días
This means “good day.” It’s used primarily during the daytime, so try to avoid using it during late afternoon or evening hours. For the afternoon, you’d use buenas tardes, and in the evening you’d use buenas noches.
This is a more formal greeting.
For instance, if you call a restaurant to make a reservation, it might play out like this:
Restaurante La Mesa—buenos días. (“The Table Restaurant—good day.”)
Buenos días. Necesito una reserva. (“Good day. I need a reservation.”)
Bueno usually means “good.” However, in Mexico, it can also be used as a telephone greeting that means the equivalent of “yes?” or “hello?” Internet lore suggests that this emerged in the late 1800s as a way of confirming a telephone had connected, but the exact history is unclear. It can be used formally or informally.
Dígame (“tell me”) or diga (“say it”) may sound a little aggressive in English, but they’re common telephone greetings in Spanish when you answer a call that you’ve received. They can be used formally or informally.
6. ¿Cómo estás?
¿Cómo estás? is the informal for “how are you?” The more formal option is ¿Cómo está usted? You can use it as an informal way to say “hi,” or save it for a little later in the conversation once you’ve greeted the person and introduced yourself.
7. ¿Podría hablar con…?
¿Podría hablar con…? means “Could I speak with…?” Just fill in the ellipsis (“…”) with the name of the person with whom you want to speak.
8. ¿Podría pasarme a…?
This means “Could you pass me to…?” It’s very much like saying “May I speak with…?”
Fill in a name in place of the ellipsis (“…”), and you’ve just asked if that person is there.
10. ¿De parte de quién?/¿De parte?
¿De parte de quién? means “From whom?” However, it’s used like “Who is calling?” ¿De parte? is also used as an abbreviation of this question.
11. ¿Quién habla?
“Who is speaking?”
Explanations and Transitions
12. Llamo para…
This literally means “I’m calling for…” Usually, it’s followed up with a verb to explain why you’re calling. For instance, llamo para hablar con Juan means “I’m calling to speak to Juan.”
13. Un momento
14. Se ha equivocado
Se ha equivocado means “you are mistaken.” It’s used if someone mistakenly calls your number. It uses the formal tense in order to be polite to the caller.
15. Me he equivocado de número
This means “I have mistaken the number,” but it’s used like “I have the wrong number.”
16. ¿Puedo dejar un recado?
“Can I leave a message?”
17. Lo siento, pero no me interesa
This means “sorry, I’m not interested.” Given the proliferation of scams and sales calls, this is a helpful phrase to learn in as many languages as possible.
18. Gracias por llamar
“Thank you for calling.”
19. Llámame más tarde
“Call me later.”
20. Volveré a llamar
“I’ll call back.”
21. Me tengo que ir
“I have to go.”
Now, you’ll never have to put a Spanish phone conversation on hold!
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