#307: How to Use English Abbreviations in Emails, Texts, and Conversations

Apr 3, 2024 | Business Professional English, Communication Skills

Today, communication happens in the blink of an eye (in other words, very quickly) and that means mastering the art of English abbreviations is not just a skill, it’s a necessity. 

My goal is to empower you to communicate confidently and effectively in English.

That’s why we’re diving into the essential abbreviations you need to know for emails, texts, and everyday conversations.

From B2B to POC and EOD, understanding these shortcuts is more than just about keeping up; it’s about standing out. And maintaining clear communication quickly.

Whether you’re navigating the complex landscape of business communication, trying to make a solid impression in professional emails, or simply wanting to understand and be understood in casual texts and talks, this video is your ultimate guide. 

Being in the know with these abbreviations can save you time, make your messages more effective, and ultimately, help you build better connections. 

So I’ll break down each abbreviation, not just to tell you what they stand for, but to give you real-life examples of how and when to use them.

By the end of this video, you’ll not only master these abbreviations but also gain the confidence to use them like a pro.


How to Use English Abbreviations in Emails, Texts, and Conversations

Let’s start and unlock the secrets to quick, efficient English communication with abbreviations!

To make this lesson easier to navigate, I’ve identified 6 key categories of abbreviations:

  • Category #1: For Time Away
  • Category #2: For Feelings & Opinions
  • Category #3: For Actions
  • Category #4: For Timelines
  • Category #5: For Attention
  • Category #6: For Business

Lastly: here’s a quick tip on which abbreviations are for writing only (text or email) and which can also be used in conversation.

Most abbreviations are just for writing. That means we’ll use the shortened form when writing a quick text message or email, but we’ll say the full words in a conversation. 

I will highlight which English abbreviations can also be used in conversation for the abbreviations I’ll share today. 

Category #1: For Time Away

  • OOO
    • Meaning: Out of office
    • Usage: used in writing with other professionals familiar with workplace abbreviations.  
    • Ex. Annemarie is currently OOO. She’ll be back next week. 
  • AFK
    • Meaning: Away from keyboard
    • Usage: Especially used by remote workers, online forum members, or live gamers. Often used as a status to notify others that you’re having a quick moment away from your device and will respond when you return. 
    • Ex. Currently, AFK. Will be back in 20 minutes.
  • IAM
    • Meaning: In a meeting
    • Usage: used to denote that you’re unable to respond, and away, due to a meeting.
    • Ex. I’m IAM. Could I get back to you in an hour?
  • LET
    • Meaning: Leaving early today
    • Usage: Used to share that your work hours might be shorter than usual or that you’re cutting social time short. 
    • Ex. I’m LET. I’ll get back to you on this first thing in the morning.
  • N/A
    • Meaning: Not available
    • Usage: Used to mean that something or someone is unavailable.
    • Ex. I’m away on vacation and n/a until July 15.
  • WREM
    • Meaning: Working remotely
    • Usage: Especially used in written communication with professionals and coworkers.
    • Ex. Due to my health, I’ll be WREM from May to June.

Category #2: For Feelings & Opinions

    • Meaning: As far as I know
    • Usage: Used casually in written communication (i.e. texts, emails, etc.).
    • Ex. AFAIK, Donna’s not joining us for dinner tonight. 
  • FOMO
    • Meaning: Fear of missing out;
    • a type of social anxiety where you feel that if you miss an opportunity you might miss out on something great
    • Usage: Used casually in both written and spoken communication. Especially, in casual conversations with friends, family, or coworkers.
    • Ex. I’m getting major FOMO just from watching these videos. I wish I’d bought tickets to the concert. 
  • IFYP
    • Meaning: I feel your pain
    • Usage: Often used in written communication, especially, social media and online forums. 
    • Ex. IFYP and I’m here if you need anything. 
  • IMO
    • Meaning: In my opinion
    • Usage: Was previously mostly used in casual written communication (i.e. texts, emails, social media). 
    • Ex. IMO the dress looks better with the blue jacket. 
  • MBN
    • Meaning: Must be nice
    • Usage: The statement is mostly used casually in written communication. Often used to express frustration or envy towards something that is better than what you have. 
    • Ex. If a friend is constantly traveling throughout the year. Someone jealous might say, “MBN to travel so often.”
  • OT
    • Meaning: Off topic
    • Usage: Used to introduce a completely different idea or question. Used casually in both written and spoken communication. 
    • Ex. This is a bit OT, but could take some time to discuss the plan for next month before we forget?
  • TBH
    • Meaning: To be honest
    • Usage: Used in written contexts. Often casually. 
    • Ex. TBH, I don’t see much difference between either proposal.
  • TMI
    • Meaning: Too much information; unnecessary, personal,  information
    • Usage: Used in reaction to unnecessarily personal details shared by someone. This is used casually in both written and verbal communication.
    • Ex. Imagine your sibling recently underwent surgery. If they start to describe how something looked or felt, you might exclaim, “TMI! I don’t need to know that!”
  • WTH
    • Meaning: What the heck/hell
    • Usage: Often used as a softer, and less jarring, alternative to WTF. Used in casual written and spoken communication to express frustration, surprise, anger, and/or hurt. 
    • Ex. WTH! I told Megan I needed space. Why does she keep calling me?

Category #3: For Actions

  • AR
    • Meaning: Action required
    • Usage: often used in written communication to quickly note that a specific action is required by the intended recipient of the message. This is used in written communication and is often followed by specifics.
    • Ex. AR: call client before noon.
  • BID
    • Meaning: Break it down; simplify; shorten
    • Usage: Used in written communication to identify that parts of a task needs to be broken into simpler tasks. Could also be used to request simplification or clarification.
    • Ex. Could you BID? I’m a little lost here. 
  • CTA
    • Meaning: Call-to-action
    • Usage: used in both written and verbal communication to tell people what to do. For example, this could be phrases like, click here, buy now, learn more, or join us. This is especially used in social media and digital marketing. 
    • Ex. We need to brainstorm a strong CTA for the promotional social media posts. 
  • DM
    • Meaning: Direct message
    • Usage: used to refer to directly and privately sending someone a message. Used in both written and verbal communication. 
    • Ex. I’ll send you a DM for more details.
  • NNTR
    • Meaning: No need to respond
    • Usage: Often used in written communication to mean that no action or response is required. 
    • Ex. I will be moving forward with the ideas we discussed in today’s meeting. NNTR to the previous message.
  • TBF
    • Meaning: To be forwarded 
    • Usage: Used in written communication to mean that a message, document, or memo needs to be passed on to someone.
    • Ex. For example, imagine you are writing a quick reminder or memo to a coworker to share important dates in the fourth quarter. You might write, “Important upcoming dates for Q4. TBF to the entire staff.”
  • TL;DR
    • Meaning: Too long and didn’t read
    • Usage: Often found in comment sections, forums, and email chains. Used in writing to share that there were too many messages and then ask for specific information. This is also useful when a message is convoluted or too long and you require only important details.  
    • Ex. You’re part of a friends group on WhatsApp and by there are 20 messages about dinner reservations. You might say, “I’ll definitely be free this Saturday. TL;DR though, could someone tell me where we’re meeting?”
  • TYT
    • Meaning: Take your time
    • Usage: Often used in short messages or texts. 
    • Ex. I know it’s been a busy week, so TYT. 

Category #4: For Timelines

    • Meaning: Please respond by
    • Usage: Often used in written communication and often followed by a deadline. While RSVP is often used with formal invitations to an event, PRB is used less formally in emails. 
    • Ex. We will need to finalize the itinerary soon. PRB Friday with your thoughts. 
    • Meaning: End of day/week/month
    • Usage: Often used to set clear deadlines through written or verbal communication. This is especially used in workplaces. 
    • Ex. I need these reports reviewed and sent by EOD. 
  • ETA
    • Meaning: Estimated time of arrival
    • Usage: Used in written and verbal communication to share when something or someone is expected to arrive. 
    • Ex. Hey, I saw that your flight is delayed. What’s the expected ETA?
  • TBD
    • Meaning: To be decided/determined
    • Usage: Used in written and verbal communication to mean that something is undecided or wil be decided soon.
    • Ex. The venue for the event is TBD.

Category 5: For Attention

  • CC
    • Meaning: Carbon copy to
    • Usage: Used in written and verbal communication. This is especially true for emails where someone can also be marked to receive a copy of the email. In verbal communication, we can use CC to mean that a document or a message needs to be shared with this person as well. 
    • Ex. Do you mind CC’ing me on that email? I’d like to keep up with any changes that are discussed. 
  • FAO
    • Meaning: For the attention of
    • Usage: Often used in written communication to denote that something is specifically for an intended recipient. Usually followed by the recipient’s name. 
    • Ex. For example, after speaking to a client, you may quickly write a memo to the team. Email from client FAO the department manager. Do not respond.  
    • Meaning: For your information/reference
    • Usage: Used in casual and formal written and verbal communication. Especially, to call attention to certain information.
    • Ex. The meeting is canceled for today and, fyi, I’ll be offline in an hour. 

Category #6: For Work/Business

  • AI
    • Meaning: Artificial Intelligence
    • Usage: Used in both written and verbal communication to refer to artificial intelligence in general or modern chatbots (ex. ChatGPT, Gemini, etc.)
    • Ex. I’m interested in learning more about AI. Do you know any good resources?
  • B2B
    • Meaning: Business to business
    • Usage: Used in professional written and verbal communication to denote a form of transaction between businesses. 
    • Ex. Manufacturers, suppliers, and wholesalers are B2B companies.
  • POC
    • Meaning: Point of contact
    • Usage: Used in written communication to bring attention to the person to contact should anything be required. 
    • Ex. Since I will be away for the next couple weeks, your POC will be Sharon.
  • PTO
    • Meaning: Paid time off
    • Usage: Used in both written and verbal communication to refer to paid sick days and/or vacation days from an employer.
    • Ex. If you have any PTO left, please use it before the end of the fiscal year.

After you’ve watched the video and reviewed the lesson, it’s time to practice!

Using the abbreviations from today’s lesson, how would you express the following:

  1. Frustration over a business that quoted you a higher price for decorations than your friend. 
  2. A deadline for tasks that need to be completed to successfully launch a new product. 
  3. Your opinion on upcoming vacation plans with your family.

You can share with me in the comment section below.

~ Annemarie

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