11 Popular Abbreviations All English Speakers Should Know

Nov 16, 2021

We live in a world of online communication and digital writing, so we can’t really avoid abbreviations. They are as popular as selfies in terms of chat rooms and messengers.


Even though you can write a text or message without using them, understanding what a native English speaker has written requires knowing the meaning of at least a few common abbreviations.

Natives mainly use them to shorten their speech, especially in writing. So, if you want to improve your English, you should stop focusing only on grammar rules and start paying more attention to common abbreviations, phrases, and words that natives use on a daily basis.

For that reason, we’re going to explain some of the most popular abbreviations in the English language that will help you understand and have online conversations with or between native speakers.

But first, let’s explain what abbreviations are.

What Are Abbreviations in English?

Abbreviations are, in fact, shortened forms of words that save you time and space when writing or help you avoid repeating long words in a text. This makes sentences or texts a lot easier to read.
They are mostly used when writing something informal, although there are many abbreviations that are used in formal writing such as business emails.

What Are Some of the Most Popular Abbreviations?

Here are some of the most popular abbreviations in the English language so the next time you see one you’ll be able to understand it and respond accordingly.

1. DIY

DIY stands for “do it yourself” and is commonly used when talking about handcrafts. You can use this abbreviation when searching Pinterest or Instagram for some new ideas about your crafts.

2. Aka or a.k.a.

A lot of nicknames and stage names contain the abbreviation aka or a.k.a., which means “also known as”. You can also find it in capital letters AKA. So, the next time when you see a phrase such as “Lady Gaga aka Mother Monster”, you’d know what it means.


This abbreviation is used in both formal and informal writing. It means “as soon as possible”. It’s commonly used in emails when bosses want to inform their employees to do something quickly. Or, when professors want to tell their students to complete a task ASAP. The abbreviation is also used in chat.

4. BRB

Natives use BRB all the time, so if you want to communicate with a native English speaker, it’s crucial that you know its meaning – “be right back”. They often use it when something demands their attention in the middle of a chat.

5. Etc.

What Are Abbreviations

You’re probably seeing this abbreviation in English texts and messages all the time. It comes from the phrase “Et cetera” and people use it when they want to say “and so forth” or “and other similar things”. It’s typically found at the end of a sentence.

6. LMK

Natives use this abbreviation when they’re waiting for more information or confirmation from someone. It stands for “let me know” and it’s often added at the end of a message or text. LMK is commonly used between friends and family members.

7. Re

You can often see this abbreviation at the top of an email, meaning “regarding”. In this way, the person who has created the email gets straight to the point to save the reader time and make it easier to read and understand.

8. i.e.

This popular abbreviation comes from “id est” – a Latin phrase that means “that is” or “in other words”. It’s always written in small letters and people use it when they want to clarify the meaning of something they have previously said, or when they want to explain a little-known term or concept.

For example, “Just one teacher, i.e. Mr. Brown, has allowed his students to participate in the contest.”

9. DOB

All of us have a DOB – “date of birth”. This abbreviation is usually found in official forms. But, sometimes it can mean another thing – “do our best”.
For example, “I have a lot of school subjects such as math, English, history, drama, science, etc.”

10. AM and PM

Knowing whether it’s 6 in the morning or 6 in the afternoon can make a lot of difference. These abbreviations have been created for that purpose. AM stands for “after midnight” and it’s used when referring to activities planned or performed in the morning.

PM, on the other hand, stands for “post meridiem” which means “after noon” or “after midday”. So, 5 PM is 17:00 when using 24-hour time.

11. LOL

Native speakers love to use “LOL” when chatting to express laughter. It stands for “laughing out loud” and is used informally for ages. Due to its popularity, the Oxford English Dictionary has recognized it in 2011.

Other Popular Abbreviations Used in Chats

Abbreviations in English

Here are more popular abbreviations used in texts, chats, messages, or tweets:

•    TBH, meaning “to be honest”
•    IRL, meaning “in real life”
•    SRSLY, meaning “seriously”
•    J4F, meaning “just for fun”
•    FOMO, meaning “fear of missing out”
•    SOML, meaning “story of my life”
•    JSYK, meaning “just so you know”
•    TGIF, meaning “thank God it’s Friday”
•    OMW, meaning “on my way”
•    W8, meaning “wait”
•    IDK, meaning “I don’t know”
•    IMO, meaning “in my opinion”
•    RUOK, meaning “are you ok?”
•    GFN, meaning “gone for now”
•    GRATZ, meaning “congratulations”
•    CWOT, meaning “complete waste of time”
•    TBH, meaning “to be honest”
•    TTYL, meaning “talk to you later”
•    BBIAS, meaning “be back in a sec”
•    IBRB, meaning “I’ll be right back”
•    OMG, meaning “oh my God”
•    GR8, meaning “great”

To Sum Up

Abbreviations are a huge part of written English. They are used to save time and take less space when chatting or writing texts of all types, such as emails.

Knowing at least the most popular abbreviations in the English language will help you understand natives better and communicate with them effectively.

Milena Popova

Milena is an ESL teacher with over 8 years of experience in providing original content. She enjoys writing educational articles that may help English language learners understand some aspects of English.

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