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Abbreviations in English


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Abbreviations (abbr.) are one of the most annoying things about language. If a non-native English speaker comes across the abbreviation a.k.a. in a text, then he/she will find it hard to guess that it means "also known as" without referring to a dictionary.
Most people use abbreviations when taking notes. The words that we abbreviate are either words that we use frequently when writing or long words. There are infinite amounts of abbreviations in the English language and people are now using them more and more in daily speech (English speakers say the UK instead of United Kingdom!). Some abbreviations are relatively easy to guess, however, others are not so obvious. The abbreviation d.o.b. (date of birth) which is used on many administrative forms might be obvious to an English native speaker but a non-native English speaker will find it impossible to guess. Here is a quick guide to the most important abbreviations and on how to use them.

Some abbreviations are easy to guess since they are also used in other European languages (e.g. example given: CD, compact disc. V.I.P Very Important Person). Others are more particular to the UK and refer to British institutions or companies (e.g. HRH, Her Royal Highness the Queen's title or BT for British Telecom).

Abbreviating work or academic titles is common practise in the UK. For example, you can write Dr. for doctor, MA instead of Masters of -Arts or MP for Member of Parliament. Diplomas in formal documents such as CVs appear in the form of an abbreviation (BSc for Bachelor of Science, PhD for doctor of Philosophy). However, as a rule, if you use an abbreviation for the first time, you should put its meaning into brackets unless you are dealing with common abbreviations such as e.g. for example, PTO please turn over, or re: reply.

People in business use many abbreviations mostly because economic terms tend to be too long. It is hard to make a list of them because there are so many of them. The best thing to do is to learn them progressively. The abbreviation Ltd. stands for a company with limited liability (Inc. meaning incorporated is the US equivalent) and GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product.

Common abbreviations

Here are a few examples of abbreviations that are common in the English language.

FO Foreign Office
HO Home Office
BBC British Broadcasting Corporation
RAF Royal Air Force
i.e. id est (that is)
m.p.h. miles per hour
I.Q. Intelligence Quota
B&B Bed and Breakfast
DIY Do it Yourself

Beware! Some abbreviations have different meanings depending on the context. FO can mean Field Officer, Flying Officer or Foreign Office.

Abbreviations make our life easier. However, when using them, don't overdo it. Otherwise, people will say to you: "You're going OTT (over the top)!"

Abbreviations (abbr.) are one of the most annoying things about language. If a non-native English speaker comes across the abbreviation a.k.a. in a text, then he/she will find it hard to guess that it means "also known as" without referring to a dictionary.
Most people use abbreviations when taking notes. The words that we abbreviate are either words that we use frequently when writing or long words. There are infinite amounts of abbreviations in the English language and people are now using them more and more in daily speech (English speakers say the UK instead of United Kingdom!). Some abbreviations are relatively easy to guess, however, others are not so obvious. The abbreviation d.o.b. (date of birth) which is used on many administrative forms might be obvious to an English native speaker but a non-native English speaker will find it impossible to guess. Here is a quick guide to the most important abbreviations and on how to use them.

Some abbreviations are easy to guess since they are also used in other European languages (e.g. example given: CD, compact disc. V.I.P Very Important Person). Others are more particular to the UK and refer to British institutions or companies (e.g. HRH, Her Royal Highness the Queen's title or BT for British Telecom).

Abbreviating work or academic titles is common practise in the UK. For example, you can write Dr. for doctor, MA instead of Masters of -Arts or MP for Member of Parliament. Diplomas in formal documents such as CVs appear in the form of an abbreviation (BSc for Bachelor of Science, PhD for doctor of Philosophy). However, as a rule, if you use an abbreviation for the first time, you should put its meaning into brackets unless you are dealing with common abbreviations such as e.g. for example, PTO please turn over, or re: reply.

People in business use many abbreviations mostly because economic terms tend to be too long. It is hard to make a list of them because there are so many of them. The best thing to do is to learn them progressively. The abbreviation Ltd. stands for a company with limited liability (Inc. meaning incorporated is the US equivalent) and GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product.

Common abbreviations

Here are a few examples of abbreviations that are common in the English language.

FO Foreign Office
HO Home Office
BBC British Broadcasting Corporation
RAF Royal Air Force
i.e. id est (that is)
m.p.h. miles per hour
I.Q. Intelligence Quota
B&B Bed and Breakfast
DIY Do it Yourself

Beware! Some abbreviations have different meanings depending on the context. FO can mean Field Officer, Flying Officer or Foreign Office.

Abbreviations make our life easier. However, when using them, don't overdo it. Otherwise, people will say to you: "You're going OTT (over the top)!"









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