Believe it or not, I love being disconnected from the world. Vacations where I don’t have my phone or my data plan doesn’t work are my favorite. Everyone is so attached to their phones nowadays (including me!) that I really enjoy being away from it for a few days. If you’re learning English, there’s a whole bunch (a lot!) of cell phone English that comes with the modern, connected world.

As always, Bespeaking is stepping in (coming) to help you learn some of the finer points of the English language. This week, we’re focusing on cell phone English vocabulary and phrases that go hand in hand (together) with phones so you’ll never be stuck (stopped) for a word again.

Charge a phone (with “the charger”- see below!)

Perhaps one of the most important cell phone English phrases is to charge a phone. Charging a phone is when you plug a phone’s charger into the wall so that it can take electricity to re-fill the battery.

How often do you charge your phone? I always make sure to plug it in before I go to sleep so that I have full power throughout the next day.

For example:

  • I forgot to charge my phone last night so my alarm didn’t go off this morning and I overslept! I was late for work!

The charger

The charger is what allows you to charge your phone. It’s the power cable that connects from your phone to the wall that conducts energy from the outlet in the wall into your phone.

I know some people who never leave the house without their charger…and others who can never seem to find their charger. Because I easily misplace small things, I always (try…) to keep my phone charger in the same spot!

For example:

  • Do you have a charger I could borrow? My phone’s almost dead.

My phone is at 54% / running low on battery / dead

Sometimes, there is only one charger and two phones that need more battery. In this case, you want to know who’s phone needs the charger the most, you or your friend. To ask your friend how much charge their phone still has, you would say, “How much battery do you have?” The answer would be, “I’m at 54%” or “I only have 3% left.”

If the percentage of battery life is decreasing (getting smaller), we say the phone is running low on battery.

After the charge is totally gone, we say that the phone is dead!

You generally charge your phone (with your charger!) because it has died (is already dead) or it is running low on battery. When your phone is dead, it means the battery charge is at 0% and you cannot turn it on anymore.

For example:

  • You can use the charger. My phone is at 84%.
  • My phone is running low on battery. May I use your charger?
  • My phone is totally dead. Could I use your phone?

To get / have signal

According to some of my friends who are never without their phones, this is probably the most important cell phone English phrase of all!

If you have a signal, you’re all connected and ready to go. If you (finally) get a signal, it means that your phone has picked up a signal where you didn’t have one before.

For example:

  • I spent four days in the mountains and couldn’t get any signal at all. It was perfect!

To have a bad (or good) connection

Have you ever had a signal on your phone that goes in and out and doesn’t seem to stay stable? Then you’ve had a bad connection. Bad connections can be really frustrating, especially when you’re trying to do something important.

For example:

  • I’m sorry but I can’t hear you. There is a bad connection.

A dropped call

Dropped calls happen quite frequently when you’re driving through tunnels or mountains. A dropped call is when a phone call ends suddenly (abruptly, quickly without warning) because of a change in the signal.

For example:

  • She was driving through a tunnel, talking to her sister on the phone when the call suddenly dropped.

To pick up

When someone calls you, how do you start to talk to that person on the phone? The action of answering (taking on) a phone call is called to pick up the phone. This probably comes from the idea that in the “old days”, you had to take the phone off the base machine to speak to the person calling.

For example:

  • I’m sorry I didn’t pick up the phone. I was stuck in a meeting.

To make a call

If you want to call someone, do you know the correct cell phone English phrase to use? It’s quite simple: you make a call.

For example:

  • Have you made that call yet? The office closes in 30 minutes.

To hang up

When you’re finished with a call, what do you do? The opposite of making a call is to hang up a call. The verb hang up probably comes from the days when the whole phone apparatus hung on the wall, and one would have to replace (put back, put in place again) the earpiece on the hook on the phone box.

For example:

  • When she was done talking to her mom, she hung up the phone.

To decline / reject a call

I know sometimes when people call me, I don’t allllllways feel like talking to them. Other times, I simply can’t talk to them at the moment, or am otherwise engaged (busy in some way).

So what do you do if this happens to you? When you don’t want to pick up the phone, you have to reject or decline a call so that it stops ringing and the person knows that you saw them calling, but decided to *throw their phone call away. (See our blog on the root word Ject).

For example:

  • He had to decline the incoming call because he was driving.

Do you have any other cell phone English phrases that you are curious about (want to know)? Leave a comment below and we’ll make sure to answer your questions!

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Check out these other popular blogs: Taboo words in English, 7 Synonyms for Being Drunk, 7 American English Slang Words, or these Sports Idioms used in English!

Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and loves being without her cell phone – despite all the cell phone English phrases she knows!

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