The 100 most useful abbreviations for EFL learners

Summary: The most important short forms for people learning English as a foreign language.

This is a list of the most useful English short forms for people learning English as a second language. It includes vital English teaching jargon, informal expressions, written abbreviations, etc. There will also be a similar list of the 100 Most Useful Acronyms for EFL Learners on this site from October 2018. 

24/ 7 – twenty four hours a day, seven days a week

ad/ advert – advertisement

adj – adjective

admin – administration/ administrator

adv – advanced/ adverb

Am. (Eng.) – American English

(smartphone) app – (smartphone) application

Aussie – Australian

aux (verb) – auxiliary (verb)

ballpoint – ballpoint pen

bike – bicycle/ motorcycle

bio(g) – biography

Br. Eng. – British English

C/ count – countable (noun) (often used in dictionaries)

cell(phone)/ mobile – cellular phone/ mobile phone

cm – centimetre(s)

condo – condominium

(Fut./ Pres./ Past) Cont. – (Future/ Present/ Past) Continuous

cos/ coz/ cuz – because

CU (l8er) – see you (later)

cuppa – a cup of tea

’d – had/ would

’d’ve – would have

deg(rees) C – degrees centigrade/ degrees Celsius

demo – (political/ product) demonstration

doc – document

dorm – dormitory

dunno – I don’t know

e.g. – for example/ for instance

enc. – enclosed (like “attached” but meaning inside an envelope)

esp. – especially

ESP – English for Specific Purposes

etc/ etc. – etcetera/ and so on/ and so forth

ex – ex-husband/ ex-wife/ ex-boyfriend/ ex-girlfriend

  1. 1 – exercise 1/ example 1

exam – examination

fig. 1/2/3/etc. – figure 1/2/3 (note the use with “1”, because “figure one” is not “a figure”, which would mean a single number)

flu – influenza

’fraid not – I’m afraid not

free con – free conversation

fridge – refrigerator

fries – French fries (= chips in British English)

gas – gasoline/ natural gas

gimme – give me

gonna – going to

gotta – got to (= has to/ have to)

gr8 – great

h/w – homework

i.e. – in other words/ that is to say/ to put that another way

inc. – incorporated/ including

inf. – infinitive/ informal

info – information

k/ km – kilometre

kilo – kilogramme/ kilogram (not kilometre)

(language) lab – (language) laboratory

lb – pound (weight, from the Latin, as seen in “libra” and “libre” in modern Romance languages)

’ll – will

’m – am

M/ med. – medium (sized)

m/ M – million (as in $15m)

ma'am – madam (the female version of “sir”)

mail – informal way of saying “email”

math(s) – mathematics

memo – memorandum (a group email, usually telling people what to do – not a note/ notes)

min – minimum (= at least)/ minute(s)

(just a) mo’ – (just a) moment

Mr – Mister

n – noun

n’t – not

’ n’ – and (as in rock’n’roll and fish’n’chips)

p – penny or pence (British money, one hundredth of a pound, like cents are for dollars)

paper – academic paper/ newspaper/ research paper

(to/ a) phone – (to/ a) telephone

(to/ a) photo – photograph

plane – aeroplane/ airplane

(if) poss – (if) possible

post-grad – post-graduate

pp – pages/ on the behalf of

Pre-Int – Pre-Intermediate (not Pre-Inter X)

prep – preparation/ preposition

(no) probs – (no) problems

’re – are

re: – regarding (meaning “concerning”, “about” and so not only used to mean “reply”)

(ir)reg. – (ir)regular

rom com – romantic comedy

’s – is/ has

sci fi – science fiction

(just a) sec’ – (just a) second

sitcom – situation comedy

St – saint/ street

temp – temporary (staff/ worker)/ temperature

thx – thanks

U – uncountable (noun)

U2 – unit 2

uni – university

v – verb

’ve – have

vet – (army) veteran/ veterinarian

wanna – want to

Xmas (Day/ Eve)/ Chrimbo – Christmas

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Written by Alex Case for

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