Languages › English as a Second Language Abbreviations and Acronyms for English Learners Share Flipboard Email Print GIPhotoStock / Getty Images English as a Second Language Vocabulary Basic Conversations for English Language Learners Pronunciation & Conversation Writing Skills Reading Comprehension Grammar Business English Resources for Teachers By Kenneth Beare English as a Second Language (ESL) Expert TESOL Diploma, Trinity College London M.A., Music Performance, Cologne University of Music B.A., Vocal Performance, Eastman School of Music Kenneth Beare is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and course developer with over three decades of teaching experience. our editorial process Kenneth Beare Updated April 30, 2019 Any shortened form of a word or phrase is an abbreviation. Acronyms are also a type of abbreviation that can be pronounced as a single word. Abbreviations are selectively used in spoken conversation as well as written English. Generally, common abbreviations such as measurements and titles are always abbreviated in written form. Days and months are commonly written out. Online, abbreviations and acronyms are most common in texting, chat rooms and in SMS. In spoken English, we often use abbreviations in informal conversations. A good rule of thumb is to use abbreviations and acronyms that you know others are familiar with, and avoid them when they are too specific. For example, if you are having a conversation with a business colleague it may be appropriate to use abbreviations particular to your line of work. However, the use of work-related abbreviations would be out of place if speaking with friends. Here is a guide to some of the most common abbreviations. Titles One of the most common types of abbreviations is the shortened word. Either the first few letters of a word or important letters in the word are used for this type of abbreviation. Common abbreviations include titles used in everyday conversation, as well as military ranks: Mr. - MisterMrs. - MistressMs. - MissDr. - DoctorJr. - JuniorSr. - SeniorCapt. - CaptainComdr. - CommanderCol. - ColonelGen. - GeneralHon. - the HonorableLt. - LieutenantRev. - the Reverend Other common abbreviations include: Months of the Year Jan. - JanuaryFeb. - FebruaryMar. - MarchApr. - AprilAug. - AugustSept. - SeptemberOct. - OctoberNov. - NovemberDec. - December Days of the Week Mon. - MondayTues. - TuesdayWed. - WednesdayThurs. - ThursdayFri. - FridaySat. - SaturdaySun. - Sunday Weight and Volume gal. - gallonlb - poundoz - ouncept - pintqt - quartwt. - weightvol. - volume Time hr - hourmin - minutesec - second Length - US/UK in. - inchft - footmi - mileyd - yard Measures in Metrics kg - kilogramkm - kilometerm - metermg - milligrammm - millimeter Initial Letter Abbreviations Initial letter abbreviations take the first letter of each important word in a short phrase to make up the abbreviation. Prepositions are usually left out of initial letter abbreviations. One of the most common initial letter abbreviations is the USA — United States of America. Notice how the preposition 'of' is left out of this abbreviation. Other common initial letter abbreviations include: Directions N - NorthS - SouthE - EastW - WestNE - NortheastNW - NorthwestSE - SoutheastSW - Southwest Important Institutions BBC - British Broadcasting CorporationEU - European UnionIRS - Internal Revenue ServiceNASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNATO - North Atlantic Treaty OrganizationUNICEF - United Nations Children's FundWHO - World Health Organization Types of Measurement MPH - Miles per hourRPM - Revolutions per minuteBtu - British thermal unitsF - FahrenheitC - Celsius SMS, Texting, Chat Many abbreviations are used online and in our daily lives with smartphones, chat rooms, etc. Here are a few, but follow the links for a complete list in alphabetical order. B4N - Bye for nowASAP - As soon as possibleNP - No problemTIC - Tongue in cheek Acronyms Acronyms are initial letter abbreviations that are pronounced as one word. To take the examples from above, the BBC is NOT an acronym because it is pronounced as it is spelled: the B - B - C. However, NATO is an acronym because it is pronounced as one word. ASAP is another acronym, but ATM is not. Tips for Using Abbreviations and Acronyms Use abbreviations when texting by learning common texting abbreviationsUse acronyms as a mnemonic device to help you learn a wider range of vocabulary. In other words, take a list of words you want to learn and memorize the first letters of each word you want to learn. For example, primary colors: RBY--red, blue, yellow.Use abbreviations when writing quick emails in an informal voice.Do not use abbreviations or when writing formal emails, reports or letters except for common organization namesFor more uncommon acronyms, use the entire name followed by the acronym in parentheses the first time you use the acronym in written communications. For example: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is responsible for loaning money to nations. As the world experiences more economic difficulties, the role of the IMF is often called into question.