Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

There are several phrasal verbs that mean ‘wait’ in English.

Sometimes you are running late and need someone to wait for you.

You don’t want to always say, ‘Wait.’

This may sound robotic or blunt and can hurt your connection with others.

In today’s episode, get five fun and expressive ways to ask someone to wait.

These work for physically waiting or for phone calls.

Wait, are you ready?

Lindsay and Michelle recently recorded an episode about the difference between ‘wait’ and ‘await.’

This episode was AEE 1498: You’re Breaking Up! Using Phrasal Verbs For Telephone Conversations

In today’s episode, they will share other ways to tell someone to wait.

We don’t just use ‘wait’ all the time when we want someone to stay where they are.

It can be in a face-to-face conversation or over the phone where you have to do this.

Sometimes we need to ask someone to wait for something.

Maybe it’s in a friendly way or a bit more direct if someone is being pushy.

Either way, we need to have the language to say ‘wait’ in a more unique way.

Other ways to say ‘wait

Lindsay and Michelle go through five different ways to tell someone or something to wait.

These can be used either in a formal or informal setting.

Here are the alternative ways to say ‘wait’ and some examples:

#1: Hold on or Hang on

This is often used when you are talking to someone over the phone.

It is also common when you are talking face-to-face with someone.

This is fairly informal.

“Hold on. I’m looking for my keys.”
“Hang on. I’m just getting a snack and then we can get started.”

#2: Stay put

This is more about not moving physically.

This can sound more scolding and is used most often for children or pets.

“Stay put. I’ll be right back and I need to talk to you.”

#3: Stand by

You would often see or hear this used during a live broadcast.

You can use this if you’re expecting important information to arrive.

This sounds more official and procedural in tone.

“Stand by. I am getting some new information.”

#4: Time out

This is often used in games.

People also use it conversationally.

“Time out. We need to go through these files before we move on.”


Here is a quick roleplay from Lindsay and Michelle using the phrases shared in today’s episode.

This will help you better understand how to use these alternative ways to tell someone to wait.

In this scenario, Lindsay is getting a bag ready for Michelle to deliver to her friend.

Michelle: Are you ready?
Lindsay: Sorry not yet. Hold on. I just have to add a few more things.
Michelle: OK, I’ll sit tight.
Lindsay: Woah. Pause. Where is the card?
Michelle: Right there.
Lindsay: Oh thank goodness. Okay, stay put one more second.
Michelle: Okay.
Lindsay: Ready!

Lindsay and Michelle weren’t able to use everything in the conversation but there were bonus words.

They used ‘sit tight’ to say you’ll be waiting.

They also used ‘pause,’ a very casual way to say someone should wait.


There are a variety of ways to tell someone to wait.

Continue to practice and use the words shared in today’s episode to bring your vocabulary to a higher level.

You don’t want to be robotic when you’re having a conversation.

It’s best to expand your vocabulary and use a variety of words to say the same thing.

What other words do you want to learn alternatives for so you don’t sound repetitive?

Let us know in the comments.

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