Abbreviations and Spoken Expressions

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We all love texting our friends.

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We like telling them about how our day is going.

We also like sharing funny pictures and jokes.

This makes us feel closer even when we are not physically together.

We even have our own texting ‘lingo.’

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We use all kinds of short forms and cool slang phrases when we text.

It helps us reduce the effort of typing out the whole phrase in proper English.

Let’s see if you can read these messages.

You definitely can if you use your phone to text.

The shortened forms of normal words or phrases are known as abbreviations.

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Abbreviations can be formal or informal.

Formal abbreviations include pto (please turn over), P.S. (postscript), RSVP (rèpondez s’il vous plaît, French meaning please reply).

They can often be found in letters and formal documents.

Informal abbreviations include BRB (be right back), OMW (on my way), B4 (before) and CU L8R (see you later).

Informal abbreviations cannot be used in formal documents.

Let’s look at the two main types of abbreviations.

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The first type we will look at are acronyms. They are made by combining the first letter of every word in the phrase.

Here, you can see how the acronym UNICEF is made.

You should pronounce an acronym as a single word instead of different letters.

For example, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has the acronym NASA. You will pronounce it as ‘naa-saa’ and not ‘n-a-s-a’.

You have also mostly come across many popular acronyms such as AIDS, GIF, RADAR, SONAR, SCUBA, ASAP and AWOL, that you might not know are acronyms.

The next type is initialisms. They too are made by combining the first letter of every word in the phrase.

You should pronounce an initialism by saying out every different letter.

For example, DIY stands for ‘Do It Yourself.’ So you will pronounce it as separate letters, ‘d-i-y’.

You might have also come across some popular initialisms such as HIV, UFO, SUV, WWE, CID, and RSVP.

Now that you know the two main kinds of abbreviations, let’s look at a few more subtypes.

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We have abbreviations for courtesy titles and academic degrees.

Examples for these include Mr. (Mister), Dr. (Doctor), Jr. (Junior), B.A. (Bachelor of Arts), and M.B.A. (Master of Business Administration).

You might have also frequently come across a handful of abbreviations for Latin terms that are used in English writing.

Examples are e.g. (exempli gratia, it means “for example.”), i.e. (id est, it means “that is.”) and etc. (et cetera, it means “and so forth.”)

You also have abbreviations for time, dates such as Jan. for January, Feb. for February, Mon. for Monday, Tues. for Tuesday, etc.

A.m. (ante meridiem) is Latin for before noon, and p.m. (post meridiem) is Latin for after noon.

You have abbreviations for places such as the U.K. (the United Kingdom), U.A.E. (United Arab Emirates and the U.S.A. (the United States of America.

You can also use abbreviations in maths. These include units of measurements like mm. (millimeters), lbs. (pounds), in. (inches), etc.

We have some cool phrases that we use in our spoken lingo.

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Let’s say your friend Ankit has a presentation in class. You might say “Break a leg, Ankit.”

Here you do not mean that Ankit should actually break his leg. You are simply wishing him good luck.

People in theatre started saying “break a leg” because wishing good luck was thought to be bad luck. Now, it has become common and everyone uses it.

Phrases like 'break a leg' which are frequently used in the English language are called spoken expressions.

Let’s look at a few common spoken expressions.

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‘A piece of cake’ - it means that something is very easy. For example, “The exam this morning was a piece of cake.”

‘Once in a blue moon’ - it means that it happens very rarely. For example, “We go to the school library once in a blue moon.”

‘See eye to eye’ - it means having the same opinion. For example, “They are doing this project together because see eye to eye on the topic.”

‘Monkey business’ - it means bad behaviour. For example, “There is monkey business in the class the minute the teacher leaves.”

‘Cost an arm and a leg’ - it means that something is very expensive. For example, “Everything in that designer store costs an arm and a leg.”

‘Play with fire’ - it means doing something very risky. For example, “He’s playing with fire by talking behind his boss’ back.”

‘Feel under the weather’ - it means feeling unwell. For example, “I won’t be able to go to school today, I’m feeling a little under the weather.”

‘Call it a day’ - it means to stop working. For example, “I’ve been working for six hours, I’m calling it a day now.”

‘Get your act together’ - it means working better. For example, “John has been getting very low marks, he needs to get his act together.”

Now you know a lot of common abbreviations and spoken expressions.

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Let’s call it a day and RECAP.

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There are a lot of abbreviations and spoken expressions that we use in our conversations.

There are two main types of abbreviations: acronyms and initialisms.

You also use abbreviations for titles, Latin​ phrases, degrees, time, dates, places, and units of measurements.

Spoken expressions have a different meaning than what you actually read. So it is important for you to understand the meaning first.

You will find that English is a piece of cake once you know how to use your abbreviations and spoken expressions properly.

That’s all Folks!

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