Study English phrases and vocabulary you’ll need to know if making a reservation over the phone. Then, do a Ben Franklin analysis doing an in-depth pronunciation study of the phrases.
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Have you ever wanted to call a restaurant to make a reservation using the phone in a language that’s not your native language? Can be intimidating. I’ve put together a sample conversation for calling a restaurant to make a reservation. Today, we’re going to listen to the conversation and do an in-depth pronunciation analysis of some of it. In this conversation, the person calls to make a reservation. She asks about availability and then they have a discussion. Let’s listen to the whole conversation and then we’ll talk about the various phrases you might need when making a phone call like this.
Hi! Do you have any availability for a party of six at 7pm on Friday?
This Friday? Let me check. Mmm… it looks like we don’t have 7pm. The earliest I have is 8:30.
Wow. Okay, nothing before that? Nothing at like 5pm or anything like that?
No, I’m sorry it’s graduation weekend at temple so we’re really booked up.
Okay let me check with the others in my party and see what they think. I’ll give you a call back if we decide to book.
Sounds good! Have a great day!
The first thing she says is: hi! Do you have any availability for a party of 5 at 7p.m. On Friday? She asks for availability. Are there any empty tables she can reserve or have they all been reserved already? She fills in the number of people in her party. That is the total number of people that will be eating the time and the date. Do you have any availability for a party of 6 at 7 on– try that. You pick out a party size, a time, and a date, and fill it in. The date can be something like Saturday or October. Come up with your sentence and practice it out loud. Can she book this reservation that she wants? No. let’s listen to his response.
This Friday? Let me check. Um… It looks like we don’t have 7p.m. The earliest I have is 8:30pm. Unfortunately, we don’t have 7 p.m. is the answer. There’s no table at 7 p.m. He does offer an alternative saying the earliest I have is 8:30. That was nice of him to give further information. If you call for reservation, and someone just says: no, sorry. We don’t have that. You could say: do you have anything available earlier or later? Try that. Say it out loud with me. Do you have anything available earlier or later? Let’s go back to the conversation. 8:30 pm won’t work for her so she asks about anything earlier.
Wow. Ok. Nothing before that? Nothing at like 5 or anything like that? And unfortunately, the restaurant doesn’t have anything earlier. He offers an explanation I think, adding information to a rejection always makes the rejection a little more friendly. He says: no, I’m sorry. It’s graduation weekend at Temple so we’re really booked up. “Booked up” is a phrasal verb that means there’s nothing available. All the options have been taken by someone else.
So now she’s left with the option of 8:30 or nothing at all. She decides she doesn’t want to make the decision herself. So if she’s going to check with her friends, she says: ok, let me check with the others in my party and see what they think. I’ll give you a call back if we decide to book. I’ll give you a call back if we decide to book.
So she’s saying I’m not going to book the 8:30 slot right now. Practice that sentence with me. I’ll give you a call back if we decide to book. I’ll give you a call back if we decide to book. I’ll give you a call back if we decide to book. I’ll give you a call back if we decide to book. “call back” means I will call you again so there’s no more information that needs to be exchanged and he wraps it up with some friendly phrases and says bye: Sounds good. Have a great day. Thank you! The phrase “sounds good” is like saying “I understand, have a great day” or “have a nice day”.
When you’re speaking with someone at a business, like at a restaurant, or to shop, it’s common for that person to say this to you as the interaction is ending and she responds with “thank you”. Now, how to sound natural when speaking these phrases in American English? How to be understood? I do an in-depth analysis of the whole conversation in the conversation course in my online school, Rachel’s English Academy. Will give you a free preview here, an analysis of the first line where we talk about things like word stress, reductions, the flap T, and so on, in a real conversational English.
If you like this kind of exercise and you think you want more of them, there are dozens of them in Rachel’s English Academy and I add more every month so check out rachelsenglishacademy.com for information on subscribing. Here’s that conversation analysis now.
Hi! Do you have any availability for a party of 6 at 7p.m. On Friday? This is a pretty long sentence, a pretty long thought group. Hi do you have any availability for a party of 6 at 7p.m. On Friday? No breaks. Let’s take a listen again and think about what words you think are the clearest and the longest, the ones that stand out of the sentence the most.
Hi do you have any availability for a party of 6 at 7p.m. On Friday? Hi do you have any availability for a party of 6 at 7p.m. On Friday? First of all, hi! Hi! Has sort of an up-down shape and then a little bit of a break. It could be considered a separate thought group: hi! Hi! Especially because it’s at the beginning of the sentence and because it’s a greeting and she wants to sound friendly, the pitch is higher and this does make it stand out of the rest of the sentence more. Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! Do you have any availability? I feel like she takes the word availability— availability— and really stretches it out. The stressed syllable there: availability— is ‘bil’ but the syllable ‘vail’ availability— also has a little bit of stress. Availability— da- da- da- da- da- da- So the primary stress is on the fourth syllable but there is secondary stress on the second syllable. Availability— availability— Hi! Do you have any availability for a party of 6 at 7 p.m. On Friday? Then the other word that I hear being the most clear, the most sticking out of the sentence, the most obvious, is
Hi do you have any availability for a party of 6 at 7p.m. On Friday? If you did not mark or feel the same stress that I did, that’s okay. Party and six and fri— also had some stress but the thing to notice is that not every word is given equal weight. Some words are said much more quickly. Hi! Do you have any availability for a party of 6 at p.m on Friday?
And actually these three words: do you have— do you have— are set really quickly and a little unclearly. I don’t hear the h. Do you have— do you have— do you have— is what I hear, not: do you have— but: do you have— do you have— do you have— do you have— do you have— it’s not uncommon to drop the h in these function words like have, had, his/her. Do you have— do you have— do you have— and the word ‘do’ said so quickly that it almost doesn’t have a vowel: dya— dya— do you have— do you have— although she dropped the h so it was: do you have— do you have— do you have— do you have— do you have— do— do— do you— it’s almost like we’re making it just one syllable, connecting the D right onto the word ‘you’: do you— do— do you have any— do you have any— do you have any— do you have any— do you have any availability— availability— availability— So that word was a little slower: availability— and notice that the t is a flap t here. Bility— availability— availability— availability— do you have any availability for a party of six— for a party of six— for a— for a—
So these two words linked together and reduced. For a— for a— for a— It’s almost like we don’t have a vowel here. It’s the F sound and then the schwa R sound and R absorbs the schwa so they’re just one sound: For a— for a— for a— moving right into the next sound which is the schwa for ‘a’: for a party— for a party of six— for a party of six— for a party of six— for a party of six— so par— has more stress there than for a party— this is a flap T: party— party—
Remember, the T is a flap when it comes between two vowels like it did here, or when it comes after an R and before a vowel or diphthong. Party— party— party— party of six— party of— party of— party of— You could drop the V sound here but she doesn’t. She makes a really quick V sound along with the schwa. Party of— party of— party of six— party of six— party of— of— party of six— party of six at seven pm— at seven— at seven— Okay so the word ‘at’ often reduces to the schwa sound. She doesn’t do that. She does have an AH vowel but it still said very quickly: at— at— at— at— And the T here is a stop T because the next word begins with the consonant so that would be the S sound in the word: at— at— at— party of six at— party of six at— at— at— at— party of six at 7 p.m. On Friday. PM on Friday— PM on Friday—
So the letters P and M are said with their letter names here and that would be the P consonant and the EE vowel and then the EH as in bed vowel and the M consonant: PM— PM— PM— PM— PM— And any time we’re seeing a series of letters out loud like JFK, PM, HBO, stress is always on the last one. So M has more stress than P: PM— PM— PM— PM— PM— PM— PM— PM— AM would sound like this: AM— AM— AM— Can you tell that I’m stressing the second one? AM and that would be spelled in IPA with the AY as in Say diphthong and then again the EH as in bed vowel and the M consonant: AM— AM— PM— PM— So on both of these cases, we’re linking the two words together: AM— AM— PM— PM— PM— 7 pm on Friday— 7 pm on Friday—
So everything links together, the ending N of seven, M into the vowel of ‘on’, 7 pm on Friday— This can either be written with the AH as in father, or the AW as in Law vowel. It’s so quick here. It’s kind of hard to tell what she uses: 7 pm on Friday— 7 pm on Friday— 7 pm on Friday— I would probably write it with the AH as in father vowel: on Friday— Friday— on Friday— Okay, the pitch goes up at the end. She’s asking a yes/no question and so making the pitch go up shows that she is inquiring. On Friday— on Friday— do you have any availability for a party of six at 7 p.m. On Friday? I call this kind of analysis of Ben Franklin analysis. To see more videos like that on YouTube, click in the description.