What You Need to Know About Abbreviations

Abbreviations, what are they, and how do we use them?

There are different kinds of abbreviations. The way an abbreviation is written relies on the category it belongs to.
  • write abbreviations with capital letters
  • write full stops
  • to use apostrophes
Acronyms 

Words that are formed from initial letters of other words and pronounced as they are spelled. A few examples:

Aids
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome

NATO
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

UNESCO
United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation

SIM (Card)
Subscriber Identification Module

Note: Most acronyms can be written as capital letters or with an initial capital letter at the beginning of the word.

Some are well-established within society, so much so that they've become 'normal' words.

Laser
Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation

Radar
Radio detection and ranging
Quango
Quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation

Scuba
Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus



Contractions


A contraction is an abbreviation with letters removed from the middle of the word.

Dr - Doctor
St - Saint
Ltd - Limited
Revd - Reverend Contractions can also appear as abbreviated forms of more than one word.

For example:

I'll - I will/I shall
We've - We have
Shouldn't - Should not Initialisms

Initialisms are abbreviations consisting of initials (first letters) of words pronounced as separate letters when spoken.

For example:

BBC - British Broadcasting Association
MP - Member of Parliament
UN - United Nations
UK - United Kingdom
CD - Compact Disc Note: Full stops aren't required after the letters in an initialism.

Apostrophes aren't required when forming the plural of an initialism.
 
Examples:

CDs - I bought some CDs last week.
MPs - MPs took a vote against the bill last night.

Shortenings

A shortening is an abbreviation where the end or beginning of a word has been dropped.

Cello - violincello
Flu - Influenza
Ad - Advertisement
Blog - Weblog
Telly - Television
Bike - Bicycle 
 
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