Many students studying English tell me that they understand everything when they are in their English lessons. But when it comes to watching English TV programs or movies or chatting with native English speakers, they struggle to understand what people are saying. Many factors can cause this, such as the speed at which speakers are talking or their accents. Also, in reality, native speakers shorten words and use English abbreviations a lot. So learning common abbreviations in English can be a helpful way to improve your comprehension. Keep reading until the end to learn the most common English language abbreviations…
🇺🇸 30 Common English Abbreviations 🇬🇧
The following shortened English words are so commonly used that dictionaries list many of them without stating that they are abbreviations. Some are even used more frequently (especially in spoken English) than the original, full word.
When to use English abbreviations?
Sometimes it can be hard to know when it is appropriate to use these “shortcut words” in English. Many of the abbreviations on this list are so common that they can be used any time, including professional or formal situations. Most native speakers use additional abbreviations among friends, family, and peers. Sometimes these are not appropriate for professional use.
To help clarify what can sometimes be a tricky subject, we’ve split this list into two categories: English abbreviations that you can use in any context, and those that should be limited to casual situations among family and friends.
That covers when to use these abbreviations. For each shortened word in English on this list, we also give you a few examples of how to use it.
English abbreviations you can use anytime
Sometimes it can be difficult to know exactly when it is appropriate to use a new word or phrase. The following abbreviations are used very commonly in just about any context, and you can feel confident using them in professional or formal situations without offending anyone or sounding out of place.
1. Info (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Info is short for information.
Can you give me more info about the new job?
Would you like more info about the apartment?
I asked my teacher for more info about our lessons.
2. Intro (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Intro is short for introduction.
The intro of this song is my favorite part.
This film has a very long intro.
Did you like the intro of this video?
3. Teen (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Teen is short for teenager.
When I was a teen, I started working.
When Joe was a teen, he stopped playing football.
We can also use teens to refer to the period of time when you are a teenager. We say “in my teens.”
For example, my sister is still in her teens. She is still in her teenage years.
4. Abs (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
If you watch English workout or exercise videos, you might have heard this one before. Abs refers to your abdominal muscles, or your core muscles.
I did a really difficult ab workout at the gym yesterday.
My abs are so sore today!
I’m working on building my ab muscles at the moment.
5. Ad (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Ad or ads is short for advertisement(s).
Nowadays, we see many ads.
I hate how many ads there are on social media!
I saw a funny ad yesterday.
6. TV (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
TV is short for television. In British English, people also use the word “telly.”
I don’t watch telly/TV very often.
Have you seen anything good on the telly recently?
What’s your favorite TV series?
7. App (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
App is short for application. We use this to talk about software applications, like the programs on your phone or computer.
I have many apps downloaded on my phone.
Have you downloaded the MosaLingua app? 😉
Which app do you use the most?
By the way, have you seen the awesome new design of our mobile and desktop apps? What do you think?
8. Decaf (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Decaf is short for decaffeinated, which means without caffeine. This is a useful one to know if, like me, you prefer to drink tea and coffee without caffeine.
Can I order a decaf cappuccino please?
I only drink decaf coffee.
Would you like normal or decaf coffee?
9. Prep (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Prep is short for preparation.
I always do a lot of prep before an exam.
I have to get home early to prep dinner.
On Sunday, I always have a lot of prep to do for work on Monday.
10. Pro (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Pro is short for professional. But we also use this as slang to say you are really good at something.
For example, he is a pro tennis player. He is a professional tennis player.
She is a pro singer.
I am not good at making cakes, but I am a pro at baking bread.
11. Vocab (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Vocab is short for vocabulary.
I enjoy learning new vocab.
I hope you learn lots of new vocab in this video.
It’s important to learn the most useful vocab when studying a language.
Vocabulary words are the building blocks of language. Find out how to learn vocab more quickly and efficiently.
12. Brit (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Brit refers to a British person.
Brits love to shorten words!
Are you a Brit?
Many Brits enjoy going to Spain on holiday.
Abbreviations to use only in casual contexts
And, of course, there are all kinds of words that get shortened when we speak with our friends, family, and peers. The following words would be best used in situations that you know are casual.
13. Uni (🇬🇧)
Uni is short for university.
I studied at uni for 4 years.
I went to uni when I was 17.
At uni, I studied languages.
In the US, it’s more common to hear “college.”
14. Pic (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Pic is short for picture.
I took lots of pics on my holiday.
Can I see the pics you took?
Would you like me to take a pic of you?
15. Sec (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Sec is short for second.
“Give me a sec!” means “Give me a second,” or “wait.”
I need a sec to finish off this work.
Wait a sec!
16. Fab (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Fab is short for fabulous. (I use this one all the time!)
Sarah is a fab singer.
There’s a fab new film out at the cinema.
We’re meeting at 7:30? Fab!
17. Veg (🇬🇧) / Veggie (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)*
Veg is short for vegetable or vegetables.
Because I’m vegetarian, I eat a lot of veg.
Make sure you eat lots of fruit and veg.
We need to buy some more veg.
⚠️ Careful: The abbreviation “veggie” is used differently in the US and the UK!
In the UK, veggie is short for vegetarian = “I’m a veggie so I eat a lot of veg.”
In the US, there is no common abbreviation for vegetarian, and “veggie” is simply a popular abbreviation for vegetables.
18. Deffo (🇬🇧)
Deffo is short for definitely.
Are you deffo going to the party tonight? (Are you definitely going to the party tonight?)
I deffo want to go out for dinner on Friday.
I feel a bit ill. I’m deffo coming down with a flu.
19. Meds (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Meds is short for medicine.
The doctor prescribed me some meds.
I need to take new meds.
Which meds do you take regularly?
20. Sis (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Sis is short for sister.
(When we talk about more than one sister in the UK, we can say sisses.)
So, I have two sisses.
My little sis is at university.
My big sis is a teacher.
You can also use bro as an abbreviation for brother and cuz for cousin.
21. Comfy (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Comfy is short for comfortable.
I bought a really comfy sofa.
Is that chair comfy?
It’s important to have a comfy mattress in order to get a good night’s sleep.
22. Slo-mo (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Slo-mo is short for slow motion.
When they show replays in sports, they usually show it in slo-mo.
He was walking so slowly, it looked like it was in slo-mo.
The fighting scene was in slo-mo for added effect.
23. Celeb (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Celeb is short for celebrity, a famous person.
After her viral video, she became a celeb.
Many celebs advertise beauty products.
Have you ever met a celeb in real life?
24. Probs (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Probs is usually short for probably. But you’ll also often hear people say “no probs!” which means no problem. In the US, “prob” or “probs” are mostly used in informal writing, like text messages.
– Are you going to the party on Friday?
– Yeah, probs!
25. Fam (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Fam is short for family.
I enjoy spending time with my fam.
Are you spending the weekend with your fam?
My fam are very loud and chatty.
26. Beaut (🇬🇧)
Beaut is short for beautiful.
It’s such a beaut day today!
That new jumper you’re wearing is beaut.
She is very beaut.
This abbreviation isn’t commonly used in US English, except for the expression “She’s/It’s a beaut!” which is usually used in the context of nice cars.
27. Cig (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
Cig is short for cigarette.
How many cigs do you smoke?
Can I have a cig?
Many people try to stop smoking cigs.
28. Delish (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
“That meal was delish.” Based on that example, what does delish mean?
Yep, you guessed it. Delish is short for delicious.
Have you eaten anything delish recently?
Chocolate cake is delish!
29. Fav or fave (🇬🇧 + 🇺🇸)
This English abbreviation can be spelled both ways, but the pronunciation is the same.
Who’s your fav singer?
What’s your fav film?
My fav thing to do is go to the cinema.
If you haven’t already worked it out, fav is short for favorite.
30. (At the) Mo (🇬🇧)
British people—Brits, as you now know they are called—often say “at the mo” which means at the moment.
I’m very busy at the mo.
I’m pretty tired at the mo.
What are you doing at the mo?
There are many more abbreviations or shortened words used in English, but the ones I’ve given you today are very commonly used and useful for a range of different situations. Can you think of any others? Let us know in the comments. I’d love to see what other shortened words you can come up with!
Watch: English Abbreviations You Need to Know [VIDEO]
That’s it for our list! But if you’d like Lizzie to walk you through all of her examples, you can watch our vid (yep, that’s short for video!) below. You can also find it on YouTube. The video is in English, but there are subtitles in Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese. If you are a beginner, you can also slow down the video to help you understand it. Just click the gear button at the bottom right to turn on subtitles or change the playback speed.
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