Today I’d like to have a look at abbreviations. They’re quite common in everyday English and it’s helpful to be familiar with at least some of them.

But first things first. What is an abbreviation? Well, it’s a word that’s been shortened (=abbreviated) to just a few letters or a word made from the first letters of several words.

So Mr (= Mister), Mon (= Monday) and UK (= the United Kingdom) are all abbreviations.

Note that in modern British English we don’t use full stops in abbreviations.

Those of abbreviations that are pronounced like words are called acronyms. (Articles are usually dropped in acronyms.)

One example is UNESCO /jʊˈneskəʊ/ (not the UNESCO) = the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

FAQ = Frequently Asked Questions

You’re probably familiar with some of the most commonly used abbreviations such as cm (= centimetre), Dec (= December) and LOL (= laugh out loud or lots of love).

Here’s a few more to add to your vocabulary that British people use a lot.

am /ˌeɪ ˈem/ in the morning (from Latin ante meridiem, ‘before midday’)

The train arrives at London Charing Cross at 8.35 am.

ASAP (or asap) /ˌeɪ es eɪ ˈpiː, ˈeɪsæp/ as soon as possible

Please reply to this email ASAP.

BA /ˌbiː ˈeɪ/ British Airways

I never fly BA as their flights are beyond my budget.

BLT /ˌbiː el ˈtiː/ bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich

What are you going to have for lunch? – I’ll get myself a BLT from Tesco.

BTW is the written abbreviation of by the way, often used in email or text messages.

BTW, what are your holiday plans for this year?

CV /ˌsiː ˈviː/ summary of career (from Latin curriculum vitae)

You have a very impressive CV but your interview skills leave to be desired.

DIY/ˌdiː aɪ ˈwaɪ/ do-it-yourself

Emily’s so good at DIY that she redecorated the entire house on her own.

DIYer /ˌdiː.aɪˈwaɪ.ər/ a DIY practitioner

Wall-painting is one job that even the first-time DIYer can easily cope with.

e.g. /ˌiː ˈdʒiː/ for example (from Latin exempli gratia)

For breakfast I usually have something small, e.g. a coffee and bisciut.

ETA /ˌiː tiː ˈeɪ/ estimated time of arrival

What’s your ETA? – I’d say 7ish.

ft is a written abbreviation of foot or feet.

He’s 6 ft tall.

GP /ˌdʒiː ˈpiː/ general practitioner (a doctor who is trained in general medicine and treats people in a particular area or town)

If your GP can’t help you, he’ll refer you to a specialist.

MP /ˌem ˈpiː/ Member of Parliament

Our local MP has done a lot to create new jobs in the area.

NHS /ˌen eɪtʃ ˈes/ (the National Health Service) the British system that provides free medical treatment for everyone, and is paid for by taxes

The coronavirus pandemic has put the NHS to the test.

OMG is the written abbreviation of Oh my God – used especially in emails and on the Internet to express admiration, surprise, or shock.

OMG, you’ve passed the driving test! Congratulations!

OTT /ˌəʊ tiː ˈtiː/ (over-the-top) remarks, behaviour etc that are OTT are so extreme or unreasonable that they seem stupid or offensive.

His comments were a bit OTT, don’t you think?

PC /ˌpiː ˈsiː / personal computer, or police constable (a police officer of the lowest rank), or politically correct.

Do you have a Mac or a PC?

It’s not PC to use the word handicapped. You should use disabled instead.

pm /ˌpiː ˈem/ in the afternoon (from Latin post meridiem, “after noon”)

Your order will be delivered by 9 pm on Tuesday.

PM /ˌpiː ˈem/ Prime Minister

Boris Jonhson has followed Theresa May as Britain’s PM.

RSVP is the written abbreviation of Répondez, s’il vous plaît (French for Please reply) commonly used on invitations.

TBH is the written abbreviation for to be honest: used on social media and in text messages.

TBH, I haven’t seen him since we got divorced so I have no idea what’s he up to these days.

TLC /ˌtiː el ˈsiː/ (tender loving care) kindness and love that you show someone to make them feel better and happier.

Give yourself a bit of TLC at the end of a hard day with a hot bath scented with oils.

WAG /wæɡ/ (wives and girlfriends) the wife or girlfriend of a famous sports player.

My sister, who does nails, has got a bit above herself now she’s got a WAG as one of her clients.

And what abbreviations and acronyms can you add to the list above? Let me know in the comments below.

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