How to Use Abbreviations in Your Writing

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Have you ever been puzzled by the mysterious indication DPO or Eng. on your acquaintance business card? Were you ever invited to the BBQ with OJ, and then have been knocked down by B.Y.O.B.? If so, plunge into the text that unfolds below. We shall talk about all these mysterious things called abbreviations, the ways to discern them (yes, there is more than one type of them!) and their proper usage in writing. By the way, the affordable language editing of the top quality is always there to help in solving all your writing problems. Enjoy!  

Those tricky simple things – abbreviations. Why do we use them so often?

First of all, let us define the term. A common definition of the term stands for the physical reduction of a word or a word-combination, where the shortened form is created by the letters that make the components of that word or phrase. For example, asap goes for as soon as possible, Dr. for doctor, Ln for Lane. The very form of the word presumes such a meaning, as brevis is a Latin analogue for short. It is curious, though, that the more academic and lengthy term of abbreviation has beaten more colloquial and shorter shortage. Meanwhile, the adoption of such a name contradicts its essence. Why? Let us see.

The main function of the abbreviation is to be discernable, to enable the immediate recognizing of the full word or phrase hidden behind it. When we encounter the shortened Prof. in the text body, our mind immediately lets afloat the well-known word professor. Just pronouncing BBQ [bi:bi:’kju:], we already savor the taste of the roasted barbeque.

So, the abbreviations are like the screen hiding the more spacious meaning behind their seemingly narrow strip of material. Yet when we peer behind it, we can see the vast valleys of sense unfolding before our eyes. It is curious, indeed, how such a short word as USA can relay so many associations (Statue of Liberty, White House, Western world), emotions, cultural connotations. Meanwhile, primarily, it has been just a substituting form for the word-combination the United States of America. Yet gradually, becoming a frequent actor in the speech, it acquired all the connotations inherent to the basic phrase, and even acquired its own ones, thus enriching the whole concept.

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But why are abbreviations so popular? Indeed, should one fitting abbreviation appear, many people start to use it willingly instead of the whole word or phrase? Meanwhile, the reverse process can be related only to archaisms – words, the meaning of which we no longer understand due to their extinction from the language usage. That’s why we are bound to pronounce and write them in full in order to ascertain their recognition by our interlocutors. Such are fl. – from Latin floruit, indicating the period of the fruitful activity of some person; also REG that goes for Regina (queen). Let’s try to make heads and tails in this issue and define the basic functions of the abbreviations. So, these cut forms of the words do the following:

  • They save your time. The economy function of language is one of the latter’s basic ones. We always aim to say more by actually pronouncing less. Likewise, we like to understand more by hearing just a little. Apart from saving our time, it gives us a feeling of satisfaction for “cracking the riddle”. Today time is considered as one of the most essential resources of humanity. The modern whirl of life pushes the people to act and think quickly. That is why the system of life hacks permitting to save some time out of your routine duties and activities, is so popular. The same goes for abbreviations in language. They allow us to say and write less and to mean more, while the reader will understand us to the point. Indeed, read the word-combination post scriptum. For some people, not on close terms with the Latin language or fine literature, it may take some time to read the phrase. Meanwhile, read the well-known PS. Whatever your occupations and experience are, you immediately grasp the sense of “something to be said additionally”. You saved your time twice: first, for not reading the abbreviated phrase in whole. Second, for catching the sense before you could ever recreate the original meaning of the phrase (should you like to do it, for once).  Another option for saving your time is approaching the experienced specialist for your paper editing. If you wonder where to find essay or dissertation editors online, welcome to our “Services” page! There you will see the list of our services and also will be able to choose the optimal conditions for your order.
  • They save you a considerable effort. As we already mentioned before, when using an abbreviation, you actually write and say less. It concerns writing foremost, as some of the written abbreviations are not shortened in the oral speech. For example, we seldom say Prof and never Dr for professor and doctor respectively. Still, we can say ETA, RIP, Pros and cons and thus, spare our articulation a bit. Whether it is a positive factor, or rather a negative one, can be argued. Meanwhile the reader, too, is spared for listening to prolonged descriptions with full-length words and phrases, or reading a lengthy text with not a single abbreviation. See for yourself. Get your countdown timer on and start reading the phrase National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced the estimated time of arrival of one of its investigating jets as 3 post meridiem, local time. Got it? Write down the number of seconds you missed for reading this sentence. Now reset the timer and read the following sentence NASA announced the ETA of one of its investigating jets as 3 pm LT. Fix the timer. Compare the numbers now. The second one is about two times less than the first, right? That’s the proof for the effort saving nature of abbreviations. Yet in order to introduce abbreviations into your text, sometimes you might need to make its rewording. The latter might take some considerable effort, too. Unless you get on with the trustful editing specialists. So, if you ask yourself, “Where is it best to reword my paper?” we’ve got an answer for you!
  • They take less space. It concerns writing and typing. Abbreviations are not spacious. They act as shortening operators and fold the meaning into the less lengthy and voluminous shape. Sometimes it has the crucial meaning. When you are writing the academic essay for your history course and do not meet the requirement of taking three sheets of paper only, or a determined number of symbols, alternatively, you can check what words and phrases can be substituted with abbreviations. If you write Anno Domini, replace it with AD, if you often use the titles (esquire, reverend); go on with their abbreviations (Esq., Rev.). If you chat with a friend in some popular modern messenger, you would not like to pass for old-fashioned geek writing in full See you later or That makes me laugh, or Bring bread and butter. Instead, you will type with less than five movements of your fingers CUL or LOL or Bring BB respectively. This property of abbreviation may also be useful when there are serious matters concerned, and the possibilities are limited. When you need to relay the alarm signal using the Morse alphabet (see its basics here), you won’t be dotting Save our souls but rather repeat SOS as many times as you can. Similarly, when sending the coordinates for the rescuers, if there is a risk for the connection breakage, using abbreviations such as Lat. (Latitude), ft (feet) and C (Celsius) may increase the chances for the more information being relayed to the rescue brigade. So, there is more than just a common laziness, behind the usage of the shortened forms. For the fast and optimal disposal of the space in your text, approach the unique thesis editing service online. The open and friendly professionals will respond to all your queries in the quick and efficient way.
  • They improve the text’s readability. Due to the factors listed above, the usage of abbreviations (if not overly excessive and performed correctly) increases the understanding and perception of the written text. See the factors influencing the perception of your text. This concerns both the informal correspondence through electronic means (e-mail, web chats, mobile apps), and the academic texts (course papers, term papers, written assignments, essays, reports). If both interlocutors know what is imho, gr8 and brb, the phrase Imho, it’s gr8. Brb. Is perceived more positively than I think it’s great. Shall be right back. Within the scientific style, not using the accustomed abbreviations may cause wordiness and excessive length, while the meaning would be the same. This certainly does not vote for the higher grade. Instead of writing in full Mister Scarecrow has lifted a weight of two hundred pounds make it shorter with Mr. Scarecrow has lifted a weight of 200 lb. No need to mention all the dates, titles and measures are to be put as abbreviations as well. When you use abbreviations in your text, pay attention to its thorough proofreading. Using the shorter versions of words one is subject to more typos and small mistakes than if implementing the full-length words. The reason is, the common abbreviations are quite usual for the eye and the typos in these short words can be easily omitted. Find out how the efficient proofreading is performed  
  • They enable intimateness between the interlocutors. The essential feature of the abbreviation is that it is an agreed and accustomed form of the substitute within some definite social group. Sometimes the group number can reach the population of the Earth. Still, the artificial and agreed character of abbreviation enables the identification among the people. If someone uses the abbreviation he or she either wants the interlocutor to understand, or does not. In the last case, he or she will use the abbreviation on purpose of hiding the meaning instead of sharing it. For example, young people sometimes do not wish to embarrass their elders by mentioning the God’s name in vain. So, when they might be overheard, they’d rather use the abbreviation OMG (standing for Oh, my God). At the same time, abbreviation et al. (Latin et alii, meaning and other people, used mostly when listing the authors of some piece of work) can be met solely in the academic writing, and thus the writer can virtually classify him- or herself as a scholar and position the text as intended for the academic society. In this and similar manner, the abbreviations enhance the communication and identification within the group, at the same time excluding outsiders from it. If you use the specific abbreviations, you will also need a specific service to ensure their proper accommodation in the text. We provide the best proofreading service on the Web, and you can be sure your text will be the unique and impeccable one.

The last paragraph gives us the possibility to discern another important property of the abbreviations – their popularity and the area of functioning. By this criterion, the abbreviations can be divided into:

  • Known widely. This the major part of the abbreviations, that are agreed worldwide or at least within the bounds of one language. For example, lb (pound), NY (New York), SEO (Search Engine Optimization) etc. These abbreviations usually take time to set their place firmly in the common usage, however, their time of function is quite a considerable one and can be counted by centuries or even decades (e.g. Latin abbreviations: i.e. (that is), am (ante meridiem), N.B. (Nota Bene), measurement indications: gr. (gram), sq. (square), K (Kelvin) and so on). In order to check the popularity and acceptance of the abbreviation for the academic text, you can check the vocabularies. As a support, contact the best admission essay editing service, which will meet all your expectations as to the qualified editing.
  • Known within a narrow area / group. Such abbreviations usually are created freely, yet vanish the same fast. Such are the already mentioned Internet slang (LOL – laughing out loud, BYOB – bring your own bottle, B4 - before), the professional abbreviations (DCWG – Digital content working group, prog – programmer, mach spec – machinery specialist). They are supported by the usage within the group only, that is why they are usually unknown to outsiders. Thus, they enable the recognition and identification of the members within the group. Sometimes, when the activity of the group acquires a larger scope, they can transfer to the first group of widely known abbreviations, due to the enlargement of the auditory using them.

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We have outlined the general features and properties of the abbreviations as a language phenomenon. Now let us get deeper and more specifically into the latter and define its main types, as well as specifically language functions.

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CEO against the Asst. Abbreviations types. Their grammar function

The principal features and functions of the abbreviations enable to make a distinctive line within the mass of them. This line divides two large groups: abbreviations themselves and acronyms. Let us have a closer look at each of them.

  • Abbreviations. These are the shortened words standing for the longer ones. For example, prog – program, Mrs. – Missis, varsity – university. As we see, they do not necessarily repeat exactly a part of the longer word; however, the inscription appearance and sound shape are much alike. This enables the high level of recognition and discerning of the abbreviation, as looking at or hearing the shorter form, we usually can guess what other letters or sounds are missing. For example, we can easily discern the Doctor from Dr., the following from foll., yet not so easily the ounce from oz. The thing is, the initial longer word that gave a basis for shortage, has been Italian ounza, hence the abbreviation.

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The abbreviations usually form due to the frequent usage of the full words that they indicate, in writing or in speech. Throughout the centuries, these words of the frequent usage have acquired their constant abbreviations. They can be thematically divided into the following groups, also showing what kind and category of words has been often used in the writing in the past times:

Titles. While at present the highly developed and complicated title’ system has rather lost its importance marked by the past time, some of the titles are still used in speech and in writing. So are their abbreviations. Imagine how much space, time and effort we save each time when we write Dear Mr. Jones instead of Dear Mister Jones, or Dr. Shelly instead of Doctor Shelly. Most of the titles have become extinct with the aristocracy cancelling in the many countries of the world. For example, such ones as Emp. (Emperor), J.D. (Doctor of Law) and others. However, in the modern world we still use the polite addressing, when approaching some person, whether orally or in writing: Mrs. Edwards, Prof. Cranbers, Rev. Sh. Almond. Thus, abbreviating them, we save our own and the reader’s time, as well as ink and paper, if we write by hand.

Dates. Another good point for saving resources of all kinds is the abbreviation of dates. The date appears on every message we send through messengers or social networks. It goes with every e-mail, every letter, every media edition. Thus, abbreviating dates we save a lot of resources, paper first of all. Thus saving the planet a little bit. The following categories of dates are usually abbreviated: months (Oct., Jan., Aug.), collective indication of decades (60s, 1980s), consecutive numbers (4th, 22nd), the digital writing of the date (September fourth, 2017 -  9/4/2017). Also the indications of the time before and after Christ are abbreviated in two ways: with Latin name (AD Anno Domini) and English name (BC Before Christ). There are also some modern abbreviations for the time indications. For instance, OUTOnce upon a time (though this last one is a representative of another type of abbreviations – the acronyms).In order to use the titles correctly in your paper, be it the simple essay or even the dissertation, check our dissertation proofreading service for students. It will help you to verify the different aspects of the grammar, punctuation and spelling as well.

Street signs. This group includes abbreviations of the geographic locations (Ave. avenue, Blvd. boulevard, Mun. Municipal), and also some locally accepted acronyms (OH overhead, OC over crossing). Shortening these indications in the widely recognizable way saves the place on the sign and makes its visibility and readability much higher. That is, in turn, quitter important for the on road safety.

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Postal codes and airports indications. The next valuable acquisition in the abbreviations’ area is the shortening of the postal code. Though today most of the correspondence is performed by electronic means, still the parcels and important letters are sent by the regular mail. Thus, abbreviating the codes in the commonly accepted way is a great solution for the time and effort economy. Shortened are the names of the counties and some cities in UK (LON London, LPOOL - Liverpool), another great opportunity for introducing economy on time and effort is shortening the names of the US states (CA California, TX - Texas).

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Measurement indications. The indications of different types of measurement are used from the ancient times. To relay some exact knowledge or describe some object, we need to say what distance (in. – inch, m. meter), weight (t ton, lb. pound), volume (gal. gallon, pt. pint), quantity (doz. dozen, tbsp. - tablespoon), speed (mph miles per hour, rpm revolutions per minute), temperature (C Celsius, F - Fahrenheit) and other properties can be assigned to it. These words have become the frequent ones in speech and writing with the boost of trading activities all over the world. They are also important for the charts’ composition (indicating distance and scope), knowledge transmission (mathematics, physics, chemistry, recipes), education and many other spheres. The development of the banking system has enhanced significantly the system of the money currency nominations. Today not only stockbrokers, but the people far from finance sphere know the indications for Euro (EUR), Mexican peso (MXN), Russian ruble (RUB) and many others. This information is essential for the travelers and tourists as well.

Latin abbreviations. The English language, like many other languages of European and American continent, has its origin in Latin. Throughout the Medieval and Renaissance times Latin, though extinct from the colloquial speech, had been the language of science and that of academic writing. The basics of the modern Western system of knowledge lay in the works of the prominent ancient Greek and Latin authors, such as Aristotle, Hippocrates, Pythagoras, Gaius Sulpicus Gallus and many others. Hence, most of the terms used in the modern academic texts and operated by science, either have the Latin roots (the very word term, line, nature, reaction and so on), or are the direct descendants from Latin (agenda, flux, perturb). It is not surprising, then, that though the language of the modern global science is English, a profound quantity of its operative terms are either Latin, or have the Latin roots. Obviously, their abbreviations are also Latin ones. It mostly concerns the medicine (abdom. abdomen, cap. capit (head)), chemistry (HG – hydrargyrum (mercury), alb. - white), philosophy (circ. circum (around), alt. ego alter ego (second self)), but also the other areas of knowledge. The very way of marking the sources and the types of remarks (et al. et alii (and others), etc. et cetera (and similar, and other), NB nota bene (remember, mark well)) also comes from Latin.

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Common abbreviations. Besides the above listed ones, there are also abbreviations that formed in response to the linguistic needs of the epoch. The language is the dynamic and developing essence, and the way of its use is much determined by the requirements of people for their education, business activities, social communication and so on. Thus, with the pace of time, new abbreviations have formed, that cannot be thematically joined into some particular group yet are quite popular and marked by the frequent use. They mostly concern the colloquial style in writing. These are such well-known shortenings as Howdy (How do you do), 2moro (tomorrow), OK (okay), gal (girl), cop (copper (police officer)) and others. Though some of them may be attributed to sheer slang, their frequent use and global acknowledgement allow relating them to the widely common abbreviations.      

  • Acronyms. The second large group of abbreviations is acronyms. These shortages represent the initial letters of the multi word-combinations, such as Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Commonwealth of the Independent States (CIS), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and so on. Thus, while abbreviations are created out of the single word, sometimes out of two words, the acronyms always stand for a line of words. Their another distinctive feature is that they are used to indicates names of geographical locations (USA – the United States of America), organizations (UNESCO – the organization by United Nations for Education, Science and Culture Organization), ideas (LASER that goes as Light Amplification by the means of Stimulated Emission of quantities of Radiation), some achievements or positions (CEO – Chief Executive Officer). Unlike abbreviations, acronyms are created basis a constant rule – they are formed by the first letters of the words they consist of (BRB – be right back).

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Summing up, there are two types of the abbreviations that differ by the way of their creation and the variability of it. However, both types are inherent to the same grammar and punctuation specifics that, apart from their functions in language and speech, allows joining them into the single language phenomenon.

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Abbreviations, in general, have the following grammar characteristics:

1. They are nouns. Indeed, be it the UK (United Kingdom), Cap. (capitulus) or LuvU (love you), all these words act as grammar nouns. They’ve got the syntactic functions of that part of speech, and represent it best for they are the names in their essence. As the nouns, they also possess all grammar attributes of that lexical category.

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2. They can be defined by articles. The use and choice of the articles depend on the exact context in the sentence. If an abbreviation is used as a name of a single thing, it can go without article: NASA has issued a new report on the space navigation. However, if the basic word in the acronym is used in plural, the definite article can be used. In some cases, the acronym is not used in another way, but with the definite article: The ship arrived in the USA on Sept. 12th. If the abbreviation indicates the common noun, it can be used with both the definite and indefinite articles: A prog is an abbreviation for “program”. The prog is characterized by several criteria.

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3. They can be supported by the attributive adjectives: The worldwide UNESCO is an organization supporting dev’t [development] in the humanistic spheres.

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4. They have a gender. The gender is defined by the basic word in the acronym (OUN – Organization of United Nations, neuter gender), or by the full word of abbreviation (missus – feminine gender). The gender is also indicated by the possessive pronouns: UK has stated its opinion on the war in Syria. My gf had his dinner at 7 pm every day. 

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5. They have a number. The acronyms usually go as singular number nouns, however, if they are used as common nouns, they can also act as plurals: I’m tired of all those LASERs and their blinking in the night. The abbreviations can be used both in singular and in plural, depending on the properties of the basic nouns in them: My bar [barrister] will contact your bars regarding these legal matters.

6. They can form possessive forms. The possessive of the abbreviations is indicated in the same way as it goes with the noun: by adding the apostrophe and s: The combat’s division has arrived late. The last CIA’s investigation delivered unexpected results.

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Thus, representing sometimes a line of words relating to different parts of speech (BYOB bring your own bottle, ISO the Organization for settlement and description of International Standards), the abbreviations, whatever type they belong to, always act as nouns and maintain the nouns’ grammar and syntactic functions. The abbreviations are divided into two major groups differing by the way of their creation, while the function and the area of use of abbreviations and acronyms coincide for most part. There can be defined the thematic groups inside these two ones, that correspond to a certain area of human knowledge and communication.

Prof. or Professor? Where the abbreviations to be used and how

Now that we got settled as to the origin and the character of abbreviations, let us talk of their implementation in speech and writing – i.e., the way they are used in the modern English language. We shall talk about both the writing and pronouncing the abbreviations, and discuss the different approaches to this area.

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While it seems that there is nothing simpler than writing an abbreviation – after all, that is their function, to make our writing less effort-consuming and more effective – there still can be found several issues to discuss. For the most part, they do not concern the inscription of the word itself – this one shouldn’t make a problem if you know how the initial word is spelled. Some acronyms may make the difference (for example, radar radio detecting and ranging or AFN afghan Afghani (currency of Afghanistan)), yet they are quite scarce and usually relate to the narrow knowledge areas.

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However, there is still the point in writing down any abbreviation – the punctuation. Should the abbreviations be concluded with a period or without it? Is there a need for the spacing? What about the usage in the end of sentence? This and other issues are discussed here below. Let’s see!

The punctuation issues that arise when we deal with the abbreviations can be attributed to two major groups: usage of period and spacing. Let us have a closer look at both:

1. Spacing. This is the simplest issue, though many beginners in English often address it to their teachers, and still more often – to the Web search. Should there be a space between the letters in abbreviations and acronyms? The answer is – No for both groups. Though it is quite grounded and understood for the abbreviations (it would be unclear why a space should appear in the body of an integral word), the situation asks for some explanation with regard to acronyms. Indeed, if we unfold an acronym, we shall receive a phrase – technically, it will be a line of words with the spaces between them. Not Applicable is the original line, and N/A is the acronym. SFLR goes as an acronym for Sorry for the late reply. So, why not spacing the letters in acronym to show its abbreviated character? We shall find the answer if recollect the grammar and syntactic function of any abbreviation – it is the noun that behaves as a single word, no matter how many components it consists of, as well as the independent character of these components. So, if you intend to write an abbreviation of any kind, do not allow any spacing inside the word.

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2. Period usage. The need for period at the end or inside the abbreviations is partly determined by the style version of the English language chosen for writing. Let us consider both and see their influence on the abbreviations’ inscription:

  • American style. It allows and requires for a period at the end of each abbreviation. Be it the indication of square (sq.), of title (Ms. Miss), it all should be concluded with a period. A period is sometimes used inside the acronyms as well. This is valid even for the oldest and most popular ones that usually are written without periods: the U.S.A., a.s.a.p. (the acronym for as soon as possible), h.t.h. (a common Web acronym for hope it helps). 

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  • British style. This style usually prescribes no need in period at the end of abbreviations (both basic abbreviations and acronyms). This concerns even such accustomed in the global correspondence patterns as addressing a person. You’ll have to write Dear Messrs or Good afternoon, Mrs Rosmar just like that, without any period at the end of the title. This rule is also valid for other shortenings and acronyms: The wine was imported in qty of 1 thsd bbl together with the oil, with the ETA on Aug 1st. (The wine was imported in quantity of 1 thousand barrels together with the oil with the estimated time of arrival on August first.)

Another important remark on the usage of period at the end of abbreviations of any type, be it the British or American style that the author had chosen: never make it a double period. Whatever the style, if the abbreviation is the last word in the sentence, there should be only one period – and let others guess, whether it is a period for the abbreviation, or for the end of sentence.

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   Now that we are straight with the way of writing the abbreviations, it is time to discuss another important issue about them – the spelling.

First of all, there is no fixed rule on the way of spelling abbreviations. Analyzing the spelling of abbreviations and acronyms of different thematic groups, one can find no constant rule for their pronunciation. The type of spelling is usually set by the usage and is an accustomed knowledge. However, there can be defined three ways of spelling the abbreviations. The classification below is based solely on the type of spelling, without any reference to the pattern rule of usage.

1). Spelling as a word. The abbreviation or acronym is considered as a separate word and is spelled according to the spelling rules of the English language. This concerns not only basic abbreviations (howdy, lab, varsity), but the acronyms as well. The NASA is spelled as [‘næs.ə], RADAR as [‘reidɑ:r] and UNESCO as [ju’nes.kəv]. When spelling such words, the general rules of transcription and pronunciation in the English language are to be applied.

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2). Spelling as the original word. Some abbreviations and acronyms are always spelled in full, though may be written in shortened form. It concerns titles (Mme. Is to be spelled [‘mædəm] and St. as [seint]), measurement indications (kg stands for [‘kiləgræm] and ft. for [fi:t]), street signs and locations (Ave. is to be pronounced [‘ævənu:] and Blvd. [‘bvləvɑ:rd]), and other abbreviations. This is sometimes valid for the acronyms also, though it mostly depends on the reader / speaker’s choice: the USA can be read as the United States of America and asap as as soon as possible.

3). Spelling by the letters. This type of spelling is attributed to acronyms only. Some of them are spelled by the pronunciation of the letters that constitute them. This may vary, though, depending on the style version of the English language. For example, the correct spelling of the acronym ETA in the American English will be [,i:ti’ei], while the British version spells it as a word [‘i:tə]. BB (bread-and-butter) is usually spelled [,bi’bi], CIA as [siai’ei].

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While determining the way of writing and spelling of the abbreviations, another important issue is to be dealt with. It is about where and how actually use the abbreviations, in what situations they are quite welcome, and what speech or writing patterns prohibit their use. Let us shed some light on this issue as well.

  • The choice as to usage or avoiding of the abbreviation in the speech or in the written text must first of all be grounded by the style of the text or speech. The formal style in the oral communication foresees the full pronunciation of all the words, with no shortages or acronyms. Meanwhile, the situation is reverse with the writing, especially regarding the academic texts. Use the commonly accepted and vocabulary listed abbreviations wherever possible to save the space and improve the readability of your text (P.S. (post scriptum), km (kilometers)). However, avoid slang or colloquial abbreviations (like b4 (before), MMW (mark my words)). Meanwhile, in the private correspondence with equals you are free to use as many basic abbreviations and acronyms as you wish. Make sure your interlocutor understands your meaning, though.

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  • Do not apply the title abbreviations in writing, if they are mentioned without the name. For example, you can write Prof. Wallis, please find enclosed my assignment due yesterday, but it will be wrong to put Dear Prof., herewith sending attached my assignment. The addressing title is abbreviated only when it is followed by the name. There is also a rule of avoiding two title abbreviations in one sentence. For example, if you intend to say Doctor Ashley, Philosophy doctor, you may abbreviate either the first title (Dr. - doctor), or the second one (PhD Philosophy doctor), but not the two along in one sentence.

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  • There are certain rules as to the first usage of any abbreviation in the text. If you intend to be clearly understood by your readers, or / and if you are writing an academic text (an essay, report or some other assignment), the recommended pattern would be to decipher your abbreviation at the first mentioning. For example, if you are writing the essay on the syntactic properties of the Gerund, with the first usage of the word also give its abbreviation in brackets: The syntactic (synt.) patterns represent the basic functions and properties of the grammar category. With the further mentioning of the word syntactic throughout the text, you are free to use the abbreviation synt. without explanation. There are two ways to explain your way of shortening the words: first putting the word and giving the abbreviation in the brackets, as already shown above; and otherwise, first putting the abbreviation and placing the explanation into the brackets. The last version will look as follows: The central point of the analysis has been the grammar category of G. (the Gerund). Though the first way seems more comprehensible and successful from the point of readability, there is no open preference as to any of them.

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  • There are abbreviations and acronyms which position has been proved by years of usage and is fixed by vocabularies. If the acknowledged vocabulary (Webster’s, for instance) lists the abbreviation as the word entry and does not mark it as abbr., then such abbreviation is considered an accustomed one and may go without the initial explanation. It concerns the past-originating abbreviations, such as measurement indications (The temperature of the vial was above 50F), titles (St. Nicholas church is situated on the rock with the breathtaking view on the valley beneath) and other well-known and frequently used abbreviations. There are also some of the latest scientific findings, like IQ (intellect quality), AIDS (acquired syndrome of immunodeficiency), REM (rapid eye movement) and others.

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  • Avoid the overflow of the abbreviations. Abbreviations are good for saving place, effort and time. However, too many abbreviations will propel the reader stumble and reinstate the meaning of the written words. It gives too much work to the brain, besides, the text consisting solely of the short components of no more than five letters each, becomes next to unreadable. Compare the following sentences: Good aftn, Mr. James! We plan to arrive to your place before four o’clock. Gd aftn, Mr. James! Our ETA 2 yr place is b4 4 PM. The second message, though relaying the same sense, is much harder and longer to read. This phenomenon is called the “alphabet soup”, and it is highly recommended to avoid it in your writing. As with any other element, the measurement and portioning constitute the main principle with the abbreviations.

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Abbreviations have many functions and are quite frequent in the modern English language, both written and oral. They are the kind of “helpers” in speech and writing, allowing to save time, effort and space for both the speaker and listener. From grammar and syntactic point of view, they act as nouns, though the words assembling their integral meaning can relate to different grammar categories. From the formal and structural point of view, they can be divided into two major groups of basic abbreviations and acronyms. Abbreviations, though frequently used and having a significant history of acting in the language, do not have a fixed pattern of usage, regarding the conditions of usage, spelling and punctuation. In most of the cases, the accustomed patterns must be followed for the correct usage.

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