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Das Telefonieren

Whether you are learning German for business purposes or with the goal of traveling to German-speaking countries, you may find at some point that you are required to talk on the phone in German. This week, we'll look at a group of phrases that is used particularly for telephone conversation.


While anrufen means "to call," the verb telefonieren means "to speak on the phone." Have you ever been in the situation in which someone calls for you or tries to start a conversation with you and doesn't realize that you are talking on the phone? In German, you would tell that person Ich telefoniere gerade!


Kannst du bitte aufhören zu telefonieren?

Can you please stop talking on the phone?

Caption 51, Magie - Die Zaubershow

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"To pick up the phone" is literally den Hörer abnehmen, but for "to answer the phone" you are more likely to hear ans Telefon gehen, or simply rangehen.


Ich gehe nicht ran, ich bin nicht da.

I'm not answering it, I'm not here.

Caption 8, Caracho - Ich bin weg

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"To hang up" is auflegen:


Er hat auch erst gesagt: „Leg auf!"

He also first said: "Hang up!"

Caption 7, 3nach9 - Ehrlich Brothers - Show-Magier

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Most people in Germany answer the phone by saying their last name, or the last name of their family if receiving a call on their home landline. 


Ja, Paschke. -Ich bin's.

Yes, Paschke residence. -It's me.

Caption 12, Weihnachtsfilm - Ein Sack voll Geld

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To state who is calling, use hier ist or hier spricht.


Hallo, Frau Meier. Hier ist Melanie Schmidt.

Hello, Ms. Meier. This is Melanie Schmidt.

Caption 8, Berufsleben - das Vorstellungsgespräch

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Wer spricht denn dort?

Who's speaking there then?

-Hier spricht der Herr Bär.

-This is Mr. Bear.

Captions 45-46, Janoschs Traumstunde - Post für den Tiger

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To ask to speak to a particular person, you will need to use the verb dürfen, and don't forget that mit is a dative preposition! 


Darf ich mit dir sprechen? -Ja, klar.

May I speak with you? -Yes, of course.

Caption 29, Das Lügenbüro - Die Bewerbung

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Generally, the verb erreichen ("to reach") plays a large role in talking on the phone. 


Ich erreiche sie nicht, weder über Funk noch auf Handy.

I can't reach her, neither on the radio nor on her cell phone.

Caption 51, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern

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If the person you wish to speak to is nicht erreichbar, you will have the choice of calling back (zurückrufen) or leaving a message (eine Nachricht hinterlassen)

Ey, ruf doch mal zurück

Hey, call back sometime!

Caption 27, Monsters of Liedermaching - Atomfreies Kraftwerk

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Further Learning
Use these phrases to write out a telephone dialogue from start to finish, making sure that you conjugate all verbs correctly and that the accusative and dative are also implemented correctly. If you need more context for the phrases, watch the corresponding videos on Yabla German.

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