How to Make an Appointment in English: ESL Tips for Setting a Meeting

Weekly calendar on a tablet

Unless you’re living in a remote section of the world, at some point you must make an appointment with someone.

Click below to listen to a recording of this passage.

It happens for many reasons: a job interview, a dentist or doctor’s visit, a business meeting, or even to apply for your visa.

Whatever the reason, there’s a specific set of phrases and expressions we use to communicate when making an appointment.

Our tips and suggestions will help you use concrete language that doesn’t waste time and helps you avoid mistakes and inappropriate comments.

We’ll cover those extensively in this blog so you have the language tools needed to effectively and efficiently set your appointments.

Prefer to watch this lesson on video? Here’s our full length tutorial on ‘How to Make An Appointment in English’:

How to Make an Appointment in English:

Setting an Appointment in English

Click below to listen to a recording of this passage.

In this first section, let’s look at how to begin a making an appointment conversation and how to be sure you’re speaking with the right person. Most of the examples in this blog focus on how to make an appointment on the phone.

Greetings

To start, a simple hi or hello works, or you can start with a time of day greeting like good morning or good afternoon. As in:

  • Good morning, may I speak with Julie Cavanaugh please?

You can also include your name in the greeting.

  • Hi, this is Kristen Harris speaking, I’d like to speak with John Smith please.

Note that polite terms and phrases like please or if he/she is available add an air of pleasantry to any conversation.

If you’re calling on someone else’s behalf, be sure to make that clear from the initial greeting.

  • Good afternoon, this is Sam, I’m calling on behalf of Magoosh. Is Amber Collins available?
  • Hi, this is Marsha Thomas, I’m calling for my daughter Karen. Is Dr. Erickson available?

Making the Appointment

Excellent! You got through the greeting, but now it’s time to make the purpose of your call known.

But first, remember that many times you won’t set an appointment directly with the person you are meeting. They’ll have a secretary or receptionist tasked with managing their schedule.

It’s always best practice to show utmost kindness and respect for a gatekeeper (a person who controls access to someone else) in both personal and business matters. You never know when you might need their help in the future.

On that note, let’s explore phrases you can use to set the appointment.

If you connect with the person directly, the conversation could go something like this:

  • -Hi, this is Jerry Albright, may I speak with John Dawes please?-This is John.-Hi John, I’m calling to set an appointment with you sometime next week.

If you’re calling a doctor or dentist, more than likely you’ll be speaking with a medical receptionist.

  • Good afternoon, this is Claire Thompson and I’m calling to make an appointment with Dr. Smith.
    • Good morning, this is Kevin Sounders, I’m calling on behalf of my mother Edna. I’d like to make an appointment with Dr. Jones if she’s available early next week.

In business matters, if you know you’re speaking with a secretary or receptionist, it’s a great show of respect to not assume you’ll be setting an appointment directly with the person you will meet. You can use language like the phrases in these conversations to make that clear.

  • Hello, this is Eric Habel, I’m calling to make an appointment to interview Mr. Harris next week.

Notice how the caller didn’t ask to speak with Mr. Harris.

  • Hi, this is Jennifer Hall, I’m calling to arrange a meeting with Dr. Andres. Is he available or could I set that up with you?

If the person you’re calling is unavailable, you may hear phrases like:

  • Unfortunately Dr. Thomas isn’t available at the moment. Can I take a message?
    • Mrs. Harrison is in a meeting, but I can arrange an appointment for her.

Arranging the Meeting

Click below to listen to a recording of this passage.

Next, let’s look at language for arranging a meeting. Below is a list of scheduling appointments phrases that can follow your initial greetings and statement of purpose. You may have to go back and forth a little in a conversation to establish a convenient day and time for a meeting, but we can use these phrases in many situations.

If speaking to a receptionist:

  • Is he/she available on Tuesday? Is he/she available next Tuesday?
    • Does he/she have any availability early next week?
      • Does he/she have an opening for Friday morning?

A receptionist will know their client’s calendar and will usually offer a time if they have availability.

If speaking directly to someone:

  • Are you free on Wednesday? Are you free next Wednesday?
    • Would the 14th work for you?
      • How does Friday the 7th sound to you?
        • Are you available on Tuesday? Are you available next Tuesday?
          • Is next Monday okay with you?

Follow up with a time:

  • Excellent! How about 4 o’clock?
    • Great, can you meet at 10 a.m.?
      • Perfect, would 2 p.m. work for you?

Unavailability

If someone is unavailable at a day or time you present, it’s always good to have backup or alternate times and days in mind.

  • -Unfortunately, he has a meeting at 10 a.m. that morning.-That’s okay. Would 2 p.m. work instead?
  • -I’m sorry. I’m all booked up next Thursday.-No problem. Are you available Friday instead?
  • -Dr. Li doesn’t have any appointments available on Monday.-Does he have anything open on Tuesday or Wednesday?

In business matters, if someone is out of town on vacation or for a conference, It’s good to give them a day or two to get settled upon their return. Shoot for mid-to-late week appointments in that situation.

  • -I’m sorry. I don’t have any availability next week. I’ll be on vacation.-No worries! Are you free the Wednesday after that?

Rejecting Inconvenient Times

Again, arranging a meeting can sometimes go back and forth before you can set a time and day. Sometimes, a person or receptionist may offer a time inconvenient to you. Here are some phrases to use in that case.

  • I’m afraid I can’t meet next Wednesday.
    • I’m sorry, Tuesday isn’t good for me.
      • I won’t be able to meet on Thursday.
        • Unfortunately, Mondays aren’t a good day for me.
          • I’m not free on Friday.

It’s unnecessary to give a reason that you can’t meet, but it can also serve as your rejection of a day or time as in:

  • I won’t be available all next week. I’ll be on vacation.

Confirming the Meeting

Click below to listen to a recording of this passage.

Now that you’ve discussed and arranged your appointment time and day, it’s time to confirm your appointment. You can use some of the phrases below.

  • Yes, Thursday at 2 p.m. works for me.
    • Yes, Wednesday would be fine.
      • Monday is perfect.
        • Just to confirm: Friday the 21st at 3 p.m.

Most modern doctor and dentist offices have an automated system that will send an email confirmation for any appointment, so it’s always good to give the receptionist your email address.

However, in business situations or for an interview, it may be up to you to establish a confirmation beyond a verbal one. It reinforces the appointment and gives reference so no one forgets. With technology today, it’s convenient to do so. You can use some of these phrases in that instance.

  • May I send an email to confirm the appointment?
    • Could I give you my email address to send a confirmation?
      • Could you give me your email address so I can send an invite from my (digital) calendar?

Remember, no matter how you confirm the meeting, do it! It’s one step in the appointment setting process that many people skip, and as a result, is the reason misunderstandings occur.

How to Cancel or Reschedule an Appointment

Click below to listen to a recording of this passage.

Oh no! You had everything set up for an appointment, and as we say: life happens. Sometimes unforeseen circumstances (things out of your control) will come up, and it will be necessary to either cancel or reschedule an appointment.

Regarding doctor and dentist appointments, things like this happen all of the time, and a receptionist is typically understanding.

However, with business matters, it’s important to contact the person as you know you can’t make it. Be sure to apologize and thank them for understanding. Continue to use more formal language in this situation as it is a show of respect for the other person’s time.

Again, you don’t have to give a reason for cancelling or rescheduling, but sometimes it helps to put the other person at ease and help them understand why.

Here is a list of phrases that can work for any of these situations:

  • I’m so sorry, but, unfortunately something unavoidable has come up, and I won’t be able to make our appointment. Could we reschedule?
    • Would it be possible to reschedule our appointment? Unfortunately, something unforeseen came up, and I won’t be able to make it. I apologize for any inconvenience.
      • I’m afraid I need to cancel our meeting for next Tuesday. Some unavoidable business has come up and I need to go out of town.
  • Hi, unfortunately, I won’t be able to make my appointment with Dr. Smith tomorrow morning. Can I reschedule for next week?
    • Hey, something unexpected came up and I won’t be able to make our meeting this afternoon. Are you free sometime tomorrow or next week?

Putting it All Together

Click below to listen to a recording of this passage.

Now that we have all of the steps to effectively make an appointment in English, let’s put everything together for a making an appointment exercise. Below are two examples of full conversations you can practice with a partner.

Conversation 1: Making a doctor’s appointment dialogue

 

 

 

Person A: Hi, this is Marissa Harrington calling on behalf of my mother Gloria. I’d like to make an appointment with Dr. Lee next week. Mornings are best if you have any availability.

Person B: Sure, Dr. Lee has an opening on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m.

A: Unfortunately, Tuesdays aren’t good for my mom. She meets with her friends for coffee on Tuesday mornings.

B: No worries, how about Wednesday at the same time?

A: That’s perfect. So to confirm: next Wednesday at 10 a.m.?

B: Yes, Wednesday at 10 a.m. Could I have your email address or phone number so our system can send a reminder?

A: Of course! It’s 555-0199.

B: Thank you, you’ll receive a reminder a day before the appointment, and we’ll see you Wednesday at 10 a.m.

A: Thank you very much. Have a good day.

B: You too. Goodbye.

A: Bye.

Conversation 2: Business Meeting

Person A: Hi, this is John Carrington calling for Denise Jones. Is she available?

Person B: This is Denise.

A: Good morning Denise. I’m the new account manager handling your department’s shipping and receiving, and I would like to make an appointment with you to review your ordering list. Do you have 20 minutes sometime next week for me to introduce myself and go over a couple of your orders.

B: Unfortunately, I’ll be on vacation all next week. How about the week after?

A: No worries! The week after is fine. How about Wednesday to give you a day or two to get settled.

B: I appreciate it. Yes, Wednesday will work. Mornings are better for me. I get called into the field in the afternoons.

A: Sure, how about 10 a.m?

B: That works.

A: Great, so to confirm, Wednesday the 21st at 10 a.m.?

B: Yep, that’s great.

A: Great, thank you. I’ll send an email to confirm, so you can put it on your calendar.

B: Thank you very much.

A: No problem. Thank you, have a wonderful vacation, and I’ll see you when you return.

B: Goodbye

A: Bye

Conclusion

Now you’re all set with the knowledge of how to make an appointment in English. It’s not the most difficult conversation you’ll have in English, but there is a distinct set of language and phrases people use in these situations.

Can you think of any other phrases you would use to set an appointment? Leave a comment below! As always, for all things English conversation, grammar, or job related visit Magoosh Speaking today!

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