The meaning of some phrasal verbs used in phone conversation

A phrasal verb is a group of words (consisting of a verb and a preposition, or a verb and an adverb) that functions as a verb. A phrasal verb usually takes a different meaning to that of the original verb in it. Let's exemplify the word, "break down". "Break down" is a phrasal verb, and it is made up of a verb (break) and a preposition (down). As a phrasal verb, "break down" carries a different meaning to that of the original verb (break) in it. One of the different meanings of "break" is "to separate into parts" whereas "to break down" can mean "to fail, cease to function, collapse, become weak, digest or divide into parts". That is why we say "The car broke down", not "The car broke".

The meaning of some phrasal verbs used in phone conversation

This article discusses some phrasal verbs that are very important in "telephone" conversation. A firm grasp of the meanings of these phrasal verbs will absolutely make your speech posh while on the phone. It is also important to state that these words have other meanings, but for the purpose of this article, only the meanings associated with telephone are discussed.

1. Speak up
To speak up means to talk more loudly. If you are in telephone conversation and you can't hear the other person, you say "You are a bit faint. Can you please speak up?"

2. Call back
If you call someone back, you return the person's call. For instance, while talking on phone, you realize that you don't have much airtime, you can say to the person, "Could you please call me back?"

 It also means to telephone someone again at a more convenient time. Maybe someone calls you and you are very busy, you can say to the person, "I am kind of busy now. I will call you back once I'm done with what I'm doing."

3. Pick up
This means to answer a telephone. You can ask someone to pick up the phone if you are too busy to answer it while it is ringing. For example, "Could you please pick up the phone?"

4. Get through
In a telephone conversation, to get through means to connect with someone. When you call someone and the phone keeps ringing without the person picking up the phone, you can say, "I just can't get through" or "The call wouldn't get through no matter how many times I tried."

5. Turn off/Switch off
This is a very common one because on several occasions we've been asked to turn or switch off our phones. When you turn or switch off your phone, you stop it and can't make use of it. A very common example is the warning notice in most filling stations, which reads, "Please switch off your phone."

6. Hang on
Let's assume someone telephones you and asks for vital information which you don't have offhand; you can simply tell the person to "hang on" while you get the information. To hang on means to wait. It's just like putting the call on hold.

7. Put down
To put down means to terminate a call, usually in an unpleasant manner. Its synonym is "hang up", e.g. "When her insults became so unbearable over the phone, I threatened to hang up on her."

Perhaps you're having an argument with someone on the phone, and then the phone suddenly goes dead, you can say ''I don't believe it! He put the phone down on me."

8. Tie up
If someone is tied up, it means that he/she is too busy to come to the phone. For example, if someone wants to speak to your colleague who is in a crucial meeting with the boss, you can tell the person "She's tied up in a meeting at the moment."

9. Put through
Like "get through", it means to connect. If someone puts you through to a person, it means that he/she connects you to that person. For example, you telephone a company and you want to speak to the sales office, you can say, "Can you please put me through to the sales office?" 

Although "get through" has similar meaning with "put through", it cannot be used in this context.

10. Cut off
If you are cut off, it means you are disconnected. This usually happens abruptly. For instance, you are talking on phone, and it suddenly goes dead, you can call back the other person and say, "I think the phone call was cut off" or "We were cut off."

Tamuno Reuben

Those who seek knowledge seek power because the pen is mightier than the sword.

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