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Casual abbreviations in English

By Matthew, December 15 2013, 21:52
IM language graphic
Lee via Flickr
A list of shortened words and phrases often used in casual English.

Written English uses many abbreviations. Poligo has a list of formal abbreviations that are often used in business emails, notes and memos.

This list will help you understand casual English abbreviations. These are often used on the web or in SMS messages and emails between friends. The written examples are all casual English. This way of writing is very informal, and some people think it is very bad. Use these kinds of abbreviations very carefully. Don't use them in business emails or with people you don't know very well. You'll make a bad impression.

Abbreviation Meaning Written example Used in spoken English?
@ at C u @6 No - say "at".
1 won We 1 the game! -
2 to/too It's 2 late 2 go -
2day today Not going 2day -
2moro tomorrow Let's go 2moro -
2nite tonight Movie 2nite? -
4 for Got time 4 a coffee? -
AFAIK as far as I know AFAIK he's away till Fri. No - say "as far as I know".
AFAIR as far as I remember AFAIR u left it at work No - say "as far as I remember".
AKA also known as My boss, AKA "Monster Face", is really annoying. Yes - read it as "ay-kay-ay".
ASAP as soon as possible Can you call me ASAP? Yes - you can read it as "ay-ess-ay-pee" or "ay-sap".
ATM at the moment On phone ATM No - say "at the moment".
B be I'll b there soon. -
b4 before Can't go b4 8. -
B4N bye for now Gotta go. B4N. No - say "bye for now".
BBL/BBS be back later/be back soon Gotta go. BBL. No - say "be back later" or "be back soon".
b/c because Can't come b/c of meeting. No - say "because".
BF boyfriend Is ur BF there? No - say "boyfriend".
BFF best friends forever Is she your BFF now? Yes - say "bee-eff-eff". Note: People use it ironically.
BFN bye for now Hafta go. BFN! No - say "bye for now".
BRB be right back Just a sec. BRB. No - say "be right back".
BTW by the way BTW party at my house on Sat. No - say "by the way".
BYO (also BYOB) bring your own (bottle) The restaurant is BYO. Yes - read it as "bee-why-oh".
C see I'll c if I can. -
cld could U cld call him. No - say "could".
C U see you Time 2 go. C U. -
CUL8R see you later Break's over. CUL8R. -
cos (also coz, cuz) because Left early cos boring. -
cya see ya cya l8r -
DIY do it yourself She's into DIY. Yes - read it as "dee-eye-why".
DM direct message DM me l8r. No - say "send me a message".
esp especially Lunch was esp. good. No - say "especially".
ETA estimated time of arrival What's ur ETA? Yes - read it as "ee-tee-ay".
FYI for your information FYI I am off 2moro Yes - say "eff-why-eye".
GF girlfriend Waiting 4 GF No - say "girlfriend".
GR8 great Gr8 idea! No - say "great".
IDK I don't know IDK. I'll ask sum1. No - say "I don't know".
IIRC if I remember correctly IIRC it was on Friday. No - say "if I remember correctly".
IMO (also IMHO) in my opinion (in my humble opinion) We'll need 2 do it again IMO No - say "in my opinion"
k OK A: Can u come now?
B: K. C u soon.
Yes - read it as "kay".
L8 late I'll b L8. No - say "late".
L8r later c u l8r No - say "later".
LOL (also LULZ, LOLZ, LMAO) laughing out loud This picture is so funny. LOL! No - but some people say "ell-oh-ell" or "lol" ironically.
Luv love C u in a week. Luv U! -
msg message Send me a msg whn u finish No - say "message".
OMG Oh my God OMG! I got the job! No - but some people say "oh-em-gee" ironically.
PC politically correct I don't think that would be PC Yes - read it as "pee-cee".
PDQ pretty damn quick I need it PDQ Yes - read it as "pee-dee-cue".
PM private message Can u PM me? No - say "send me a message".
pls (also plz) please Call me back pls. No - say "please".
POV point of view It's just his POV. No - say "point of view".
ppl people 2 many ppl here. No - say "people".
prob probably B there prob b4 10. No - say "probably".
ROFL rolling on floor laughing I saw ur video! ROFL! No - this say what you are doing, not what you are saying.
sec second Just a sec. Yes - read it as "seck".
shd (also shld) should Shd I call u? No - say "should".
SNAFU situation normal -- all fucked up. It's SNAFU @ work. Yes - read it as "sna-foo".
sum1 (also any1, no1) someone (anyone, no-one) Sum1 called 4 u -
TGIF Thank God it's Friday TGIF! Wanna get a beer? Yes - say it as "tee-gee-eye-eff".
Thnx/Thx thanks Thx 4 ur help 2day! No - say "thanks".
TIA thanks in advance Pls send file. TIA. No - say "thanks in advance".
TLC tender loving care Give it some TLC & it shld b OK Yes - say "tee-ell-see".
TTFN ta ta for now Time to go. TTFN! No - say "ta ta for now".
TTYL (also TTUL8r etc.) talk to you later TTYL. Boss is back. No - say "talk to you later".
u you tlk 2 u l8r. -
ur your Got ur ticket? -
U R you are U R gr8! -
v very I thought it was v. good. No - say "very".
w with I'm going w Jenny. No - say "with"
w8 wait w8 4 me @McD's -
wld would What wld u do? No - say "would"
WTF what the fuck U lost ur job? WTF?! No - but some people say "double-you-tee-eff" ironically.
XXX (also XOX) kiss, kiss, kiss (kiss, hug, kiss) Miss U! XXX No.
Y why Y R U so GR8? -
Zzzz asleep/bored Presentations all day today... Zzzzz. No.
  1. Some of these casual abbreviations appear in the formal abbreviations list. It is because you can use them in both formal and casual situations (like "ASAP").
  2. There are lots and lots more abbreviations used in English by different generations, different nationalities and different subcultures. Use Acronym Finder to find the meaning of anything that is not on this list — their database has more than 5,000,000 acronyms and abbreviations!
  3. In written casual English (especially SMS or text messages), people often leave out vowels (a, e, i, o, u) if the context makes it clear what the word is. For example, "talk" becomes "tlk" and "people" becomes "ppl". People call this "textese" from "text", as in "text message" (SMS), and "-ese", as in "Japanese" or "Chinese".
  4. A lot of these abbreviations are phonetic, like "2" for "to" and "too" or "8" for "-ate" etc. These kinds of abbreviations usually use "b", "c", "2", "4" and "8". Ex. "4got" = "forgot"; and "I 8 dinner" = "I ate dinner".
  5. When you use abbreviations in formal English, you need to be careful to use a period. Because this is casual English, you don't need to worry about using a period with these abbreviations.
  6. Abbreviations that are short for fuck are OK. Using an abbreviation for bad language is usually OK. For example, people use "sh*t" or "sh**" and "F***" of "f**k" etc.
  • Matthew
    About me
    I am from New Zealand. I lived in Japan for a long time, but now I live in Brazil. I am the founder of Poligo. I like to play guitar and video games and surf when I get the chance. I have a wife and two boys.
    Experience
    I specialize in teaching English to professionals and English teachers. I have taught English since 2001 in Japan, New Zealand and Brazil. I speak Japanese & Portuguese. I am the founder of Poligo and The English Farm (an online school for business English).

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