Abbreviations: How and When to Use Them

Abbreviations are a tricky part of grammar. Nowadays, abbreviations are used all over the place. With the primary way of communication between friends and family being online through social media outlets, truncated communication has become the norm in most communities around the world. But have you ever wondered how to properly use abbreviations? The good news is that the internet is also home to vast resources of information and education, including the complex intricacies of grammar and the English language! Keep reading to find out about some resources you can use online to help learn more about using abbreviations properly, along with some basic rules of thumb when using them in more formal situations.

The Word Counter

The first thing we’ll talk about is an incredibly helpful resource that you’ll never believe you lived without before. The Word Counter is a tool used for real time word, character, sentence and paragraph counting along with grammar and spelling checks. Their blog features a number of informative and easy to understand breakdowns of common grammar mistakes and rules that many are unaware of. This is a fantastic resource for all things grammar and would be a great tool for any professional that needs to polish their grammar skills a bit. Check out The Word Counter today for a great resource on discovering how and when to use abbreviations!

Different Kinds of Abbreviations

When it comes to abbreviations, there are a couple of versions that are commonly used. The first is a short abbreviation, such as Mr. for mister and Mrs. for missus. These are called initialisms. Longer abbreviations are called acronyms and are used to abbreviate longer titles or names for organizations. A great example of this is NASA, which stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Each of these types of abbreviations have their own basic rules and common usages. Keep in mind that abbreviations aren’t always appropriate, but there are situations where they are commonly used.

Title Abbreviations

The most common correct use of abbreviations is for addressing someone’s title. Examples of this could be Mr. and Mrs. in place of mister and missus, but could also be used to define someone’s degree title such as BA for Bachelor of the Arts, or PhD for Doctor of Philosophy. As a rule, titles and title descriptions are almost always abbreviated as a standard way of describing them. Keep reading for some more common rules on abbreviations!

Rules For Uncommon Abbreviations

For abbreviations around organization names that might not be commonly known, there are some rules that are helpful to know so as to not confuse readers. The basic rule here is that you must introduce the abbreviated term in parentheses. For example, if your organization is called Corporate Communications Company (CCC), you would need to provide the full name followed by the abbreviation in parentheses. Well known terms can be abbreviated, such as ASAP (as soon as possible) and St. for street. For lesson common terms, air on spelling the term out to be safe if you’re unsure how common it actually is.

When to Use Abbreviations

Abbreviations are most commonly used outside of academic writing for legal texts or casual communications. Abbreviations as simple as conjunctions are often seen as being too informal for academic purposes or official letters. For example, in an academic paper you would want to use ‘I am’ rather than ‘I’m.’ If you’re talking casually to a friend, family member or addressing someone in a more casual email, conjunctions are totally fine. Legal texts used abbreviations commonly as a way of shorthanding longer information. Another common place to use abbreviations is in addresses when identifying the state or province you’re sending mail to or from. For example, state abbreviations like CA for California, WA for Washington or MT for Montana are the abbreviations you would use when sending something through the USPS.

In general, abbreviations have all kinds of unique situations that are common and correct, and many that are not. Acronyms typically need to be introduced first by presenting the full name of the organization or term, followed by the acronym in parentheses. For example, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), to establish the acronym for future use in the document. Some terms are so common that we don’t always need to introduce them, such as ASAP or DIY. However, these abbreviations are unlikely to be used in formal contexts regardless of their commonality. Conjunctions are acceptable in casual communications, but usually are avoided in academic writing as they are considered to be informal ways of speaking. Personal and Academic titles, however, are almost always abbreviated. This includes Mr. for mister, and BA for Bachelor of Arts. In general, when referring to someone’s degree, there is no need to separate the letters with periods. Lastly, make use of the Word Counter for a great tool to polish up your grammar and get even more insight into abbreviations, and how to use them!

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