Suppose I phoned my friend's house or a firm where people dont know me .

Is there any difference to say on the phone "Hi, this is John " or "Hi, It's John" in terms of politeness or formality?

or is there any other alternative ways (more polite) to introduce ourselves on the phone especially for business calls?



Formal or Business

Responder: Hello?

Caller: Hello, (whether you should identify yourself at this point depends upon many factors) may I speak to John Smith please?

Responder: This is John.


Responder: Hello?

Caller: Hi Mr Snow. Is Sue there?


Caller: Hi Mr Snow, this is John (or John Smith). Is Sue there? (Whether it's necessary to identify yourself depends upon the age of Sue, whether or not Mr Snow is likely to recognize your voice and how well you know Sue)

Responder: Hello?

Caller: Hello, my name is John Smith. Can I interest you today in a very special deal on widget insurance?

Responder (Sue): Hello?

Caller: Hey Sue, it's John. Do we have a date tonight?

Especially for business calls, you probably want to use your whole name to introduce yourself to someone you have never spoken with before. Alternatively, you can say "Hello, this is John from Widget Fidelity. May I speak to Sue Snow please?"

This is a pet peeve of mine, so please, please, PLEASE - If you made the call, never ask who you are speaking to before you identify yourself.

Finally, if someone calls (business or personal) and you answer the phone for somebody else, you may feel the need to identify the caller for the recipient. If so, say, "May I ask who's calling?"

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    Hi Jolenealaska ! Thank you so much for your comprensive answer..I agree with you.You're right. we shoud not ask who you are speaking to before we identify ourselves. Especially I had imagined situation 3 before I asked the question.. so Responder (Sue): Hello? Caller: Hey Sue, it / this is John. Do we have a date tonight? both is the same? And another question we can not say our full name with the phares it/ this is? like " hello this is John Smith" , can we? – Radiant Mar 12 '14 at 6:05
  • If Sue knows John, then no. The only reason John should say his last name is if he isn't sure that Sue will know exactly who she's talking too. If he has any doubt at all, he would be especially nice to use his last name even if it feels a little silly. He would be saving Sue discomfort if she has any confusion at all. Other than that, no, it sounds silly. – Jolenealaska Mar 12 '14 at 6:11
  • thank you again but I mean is it weird to say " hello this is John Smith" or " Hello it's John Smith " if I phone a firm. – Radiant Mar 12 '14 at 6:15
  • Hello, this is John Smith. It's John Smith never sounds right. If the call is very casual, you can say "It's John", but never "It's John Smith". – Jolenealaska Mar 12 '14 at 6:18
  • So I think I should always say that " my name is John Smith .Could I speak to the marketing manager ( or name ) to arrenge a meeting if he is available please " , when I call a secretary at a firm – Radiant Mar 12 '14 at 6:22

Webster describes that it is used for a person or animal whose sex is unknown or disregarded. However, let me tell my humble opinion in this phone case.

I'd never treat someone with it especially when I know that there's certainly a human on the phone! However, I'll be flexible calling myself 'it'.

So, if I pick up the phone, I'd ask - Who's this? (not Who's it?)
If I call someone, I'd say - This is Maulik or less formal - It's Maulik.

I opined that way as you asked for a polite way (probably with a human touch!).

On the other hand, if someone knocks the door, the chances are anyone could do that - including a naughty cat! So,

Who's it?

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    I don't think that using it in these situations implies that it may not be a human behind the phone or door. (speaking as a native American English speaker) That said, "It's Maulik" sounds more informal than "This is Maulik", and "Who is it?" is preferable to "Who's it?" (although, "Who's there?" can be perfectly fine) – Tim S. Mar 12 '14 at 13:24
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    I echo what @TimS said about "Who's it?", especially in the U.S. At the door, it's either "Who is it?" (no contraction) or "Who's there?" I think the only time I ask "Who's it?" is when I'm playing tag. – J.R. Dec 20 '17 at 17:30

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