I have heard a lot of people pick their phone and go "Yes, XX, tell me" (highly used in India).

I think the right way should be "Hey, XX, what's up?" or "Hey, XX, what's going on"? But does this work in a professional environment?

closed as primarily opinion-based by TimLymington, tchrist, Chenmunka, Drew, anongoodnurse Nov 17 '14 at 6:02

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    Is the XX the caller's name, or the answerer's? – echristopherson Nov 16 '14 at 21:21
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    In the US, in "polite society", a home phone would be answered something like "Hello, Smith residence." However, with so many (alas, often Indian) telemarketers calling, it's become more common to simply answer "Hello," with no name, so as to not provide the caller with any additional information to use in a sales spiel. For a business, answering as Centaurus suggests is more the norm. How you answer if you recognize the caller via caller ID is, of course, much more personalized. – Hot Licks Nov 17 '14 at 0:04
  • Anecdotally, I do exactly this, answer with "Hello, this is ___" if I recognise the caller ID or I think it's a call I'm expecting, and answer with "Hello." otherwise. The Chinese would answer with "喂" (wéi) which has become a unique word specifically to be used as a telephone greeting version of "hello" (informal). – guest34491 Nov 17 '14 at 1:11

Codename, there's no "right way" to answer a telephone call. It's something regional and cultural. With so many English speaking countries in the world, a list would include some phrases that are standard and universal, some that are used in business calls, and a lot of regionalisms.

"hello" is standard and will be understood anywhere.

In a professional environment you want to sound formal and should add some information like:

"Spencer & Taylor, good-morning. How can I help you?"


"Thank you for calling Spencer and Taylor. Can I help you?"

In your domestic environment it all depends on how you want to sound (formal/informal, educated/natural/original/ like a teen-ager/like a clown, etc.) My younger brother used to answer the phone at home with "Jimmy speaking". To read more about what to say during phone calls, take a look at the English Club's guide on telephone language.

  • A helpful response, but you deleted your link when you edited your post. – tunny Nov 16 '14 at 14:10
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    No, @tunny. If you click on the red "at", you'll be taken to it. – Centaurus Nov 16 '14 at 14:12

I think it also depends on what kind of professional setting you're in. If you are working at a store, and you're the receptionist or similar and answering calls from customers, then @centaurus is correct. However, if you just work in an office and are answering calls from coworkers, a simple "This is Nicole" or "Hello, Nicole speaking" will suffice as well.


In an office environment, for a call from an unknown caller, I simply say my name quickly and wait. Or if I recognize the caller ID or internal call name I simply say "Hi, Maria", or whatever their first name is.

A short "hello" is even better for weeding out robocalls and telemarketers, so I use that at home on the rare occasion that I answer the phone without a known caller-ID.

Sometimes, I answer "喂, 什么?" (yeah, what? in Chinese) just for the heck of it, but that's probably just me.

  • Are you Chinese? I recognise very little Chinese by I did recognise "shenme" – guest34491 Nov 17 '14 at 1:13
  • @trr Nah, I just dabble, with 'limited' success. 喂 (Wei4?) is the usual way of answering the phone. If you run the sounds all together, it sounds like 为什么 (wei4 shen2 me) "why?". – Spehro Pefhany Nov 17 '14 at 1:33

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