English abbreviations play a key role in speeding up and economizing language, both spoken and written. In this article, we will review the main ones.
Before starting with the list, it will be important to establish or remember the difference between abbreviations, and acronyms, since they are not the same thing even if their function is more or less the same.
Differences between acronyms, initials, and abbreviations in English
As the name implies, abbreviations are shortened versions of words. In English, they usually end in a period.
accomm. – accommodation
Acronyms are words formed by the first letter of each word in a phrase. They are read as if they were a single noun:
NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration – Administración Nacional de Aeronáutica y del Espacio – National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Acronyms are words formed by pronouncing the letters of a phrase.
UN – United Nations
Main abbreviations in English
Now let’s take a look at the most common initials, abbreviations, and acronyms in everyday English.
This will allow you to understand the language in depth and adapt to the style used by Americans when communicating.
DIY – Do it yourself
This refers to those people who love to do things themselves: from buying things unassembled to assemble them at home, to those who prefer to fix electricity or plumbing instead of calling an electrician or a plumber.
aka – Also known as – Better known as
This is used extensively in sports, music, and everyday life. Example: This is Lionel Messi, aka “La pulga” (he is Lionel Messi, better known as “La pulga”).
n/a – Not available, not applicable – Not available, not applicable
It is often used when a form is filled out and there is a section that does not apply to the person filling it out. It can also be seen in promotions and offers when it is made clear to whom it does not apply.
IMO – In my opinion
When writing informal texts, we can use IMO to make it clear that we will say what we think about a certain topic next.
FOMO – Fear of missing out
It is used as a noun to refer to that feeling we have of having missed something, or of missing something important or interesting if we miss it.
TGIF – Thank God it’s Friday
Expression used by workers and students to express joy for the arrival of the weekend.
ETA – Estimated time of arrival
It is used to announce approximately when we will arrive at a place.
TBA/TBC – To be announced / To be confirmed
When we are listing guests at an event and we are not yet sure if someone will be able to attend, we write next to their names TBA or TBC.
CC / BCC – Carbon copy / Blind carbon copy
This has to do with the old mailings and the carbon copies that the sender kept. Now we can see them in the emails and we know that those who are marked as CC or BCC will also be able to see all the content of what was sent.
DOB – Date of birth
Instead of saying or writing Date of birth, it is common to use DOB.
BRB – Be right back – I’ll be back soon
If you are talking to someone by text and you must interrupt the conversation briefly, just text them BRB.
LMK – Let me know
This is perfect for ending a text message with a request for more information as soon as possible: LMK.
AM/PM – Before midday (morning) and after midday (afternoon)
This is also used in Spanish with the same meaning, and that is because both forms come from Latin: ante meridiem and post meridiem.
ASAP – As soon as possible
It is used to request that information be given to you or that a quick job be done.
RSVP – Please reply
If you send an email or make an invitation and need a response. RSVP is the ideal ending.
There are many abbreviations you can use in English. But with these, you have a good start to get ahead with the language.