Oh, what a wonderful language English is, right? You don’t think so? Let me tell you something about it. English is a language that gives you tools to economize time, ink, and effort! That’s why we have abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms. They are there for us to use whenever we want to. The best thing about them? They can sometimes be used in spoken English as well!
Abbreviations are shortened forms of a word or phrase. Initialisms take the first letters of a well-known entity or phrase and are pronounced one letter at a time. Acronyms also take the first letters but are pronounced as a word.
When we write – or even speak – in English, we tend to use different abbreviation forms to refer to a person, a title, a place, an entity, or even a product! The most important thing when using them is that they have to be accepted to be correctly used. If you are interested in learning more about these concepts, and how to apply them, go on reading and continue to master the English language!
Abbreviations are ways of shortening a word or phrase. In English, we use them quite a lot. We can see examples of them in titles when addressing or referring to people, locations, or everyday objects and concepts. Abbreviations can be divided into four categories. Each category has rules of its own. But, don’t panic! They are quite easy to remember!
In the case of acronyms and initialisms, differences may not be that clear. Thus, we will focus on the differences between each other.
Initialisms are a type of abbreviation that uses the first letter of a phrase, entity, or word group to refer to it. Such is the case of the FBI, for “Federal Bureau of Investigation”, or the USA for “United States of America”. These are very common examples, and we most generally know them for both their ways of expression. Others, for example, are less commonly known for their full form. The initialism “CEO”, for example, is not very commonly used in its full form, which is “Chief Executive Officer”.
Initialisms are read letter by letter. This means that when we speak, we don’t pronounce them as words, but as separate letters that represent a whole word. This may sound obvious in the case of “FBI” since it would be easier to use the full form rather than trying to pronounce it! But it may be simpler in the case of “USA” or “CEO”. Still, we read and say them letter by letter.
Acronyms are also a type of abbreviation. They also use the first letter of the phrase of the word group they refer to. Some examples of acronyms are “NASA”, for “National Aeronautics and Space Administration” (let’s all thank English for that acronym); “SIM” card, instead of “subscriber identification module”; or “PIN”, a shortening for “personal identification number”.
As opposed to initialisms, acronyms aren’t read letter by letter. They aren’t spelled but read as a word. Some acronyms may refer to more than one thing, as in the case of “LOL”, which can mean “laughing out loud”, “lots of love”, or “League of Legends” – Come on, don’t act as if you didn’t know what League of Legends was.
Knowing what acronyms and initialisms are, their meanings, and how to read them or talk about them are very important tools. In your way to mastering the English language, this is something you must always take into account. Even though we gave some examples in this article, there are many more, and even more to come! If you found this article helpful, and want to keep on learning tips related to the English language, subscribe to our weekly newsletter!
Thanks for reading! See you next time!