Common English Acronyms and Abbreviations – Lesson 21

  • Subscribe to LearnEnglish232 on YouTube

Common English Acronyms and Abbreviations – Lesson 21

These are very common short forms (abbreviations) that native speakers and people all over the world use for sending text messages with cell phones, emails, sms, etc.  The point of this lesson is to teach you exactly how Americans use these short forms when texting their friends, exactly what these mean, and when these are appropriate and when they are not.  You may already know some of these, but it’s very important to know what they mean and how people should be using them.  They are fun to use, but be careful as to when you are using them, and who you are sending them too.

WTF – wtf – “What the F-ck!”

I see this abbreviation all the time when I’m seeing comments or messages on my cell phone, email, or even things like what people would write on a Facebook wall post or on a fan page.  You need to be careful with this one, as it can be both fun and offensive because it has a bad word in it.  It’s definitely better to text the letters “wtf” than it is to write “what the f-ck”.  You should still be careful when even writing “wtf”.  Never send this type of thing to your boss and only use it when sending your friends messages.  Also, you can write, “wtf” but you can’t say “w-t-f”, not because it’s rude, but because that is just not how anyone ever uses it.  Some abbreviations we can say out loud, like “NBA” but this one we can not.  It’s important to know the difference when you are speaking or texting/emailing native speakers, or anyone really.  Sometimes this could mean a surprise, sometimes it could be used when someone’s angry, sometimes it could be used to mean that something was/is awesome.  It depends on the context and situation.  You have to get a “feel” for this, there are really no “rules”.  It’s something young people use.  It’s not the kind of thing anyone ever learned in school.


1.  I can’t believe it’s raining and we won’t be able to go golfing today.  It’s so annoying!  WTF!!!!!

2.  WTF!  There were so many hot girls at the bar last night!  We should go there next week.

LOL – lol – Laugh Out Loud

Once again, this abbreviation can only be texted.  It’s usually used in direct chat like Google chat, Facebook chat, etc.  It can also be emailed.  It’s a fun kind of slang and it’s never offensive.  It gives a kind of “happy feel”.  Don’t use this in professional work emails though.  It is definitely NOT professional.  Also, you can type “lol” but you can’t say, “L-O-L”.  The  idea is that you use this to express that you either laughed, or at least thought it was funny.


1.  LOL!  Last night was hilarious.

2.  That movie you told me about was so funny!  LOL!!  I finally saw it last night.

(This is often a response to someone else’s message that you found to be funny or amusing.  If you think someone sent you something funny or even just a funny photo, you can reply with texting only “lol”)

LMAO – lmao – Laughing my ass off!!

This means “laughing my ass off”.  It’s the same idea with “lol” but it’s used for something that is SUPER funny, not just a little funny.  This is even more slang and it’s even less professional.  Save this when you are texting a friend and something is unbelievably hilarious!  Again, this can be “typed” but it can’t be pronounced.  You can text “lmao” but not say “L-M-A-O”.


If your friend sends you some photo or joke that you think is just super hilarious, you can text back, “LMAO!!”

BTW – btw- By the way

This means, “by the way” and is used in emails.  It is more professional than the ones used above.  you can use it with emails to friends, family, or between co-workers.  I’d recommend not using it when emailing people for business you don’t know very well.  It’s not terrible, but it’s probably better to write out “by the way” in that case.  It is also something so write, not say.


Hey Sarah,

Thanks for your email.  I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything.  BTW, we’re having a party work  party this Friday night.  You should come.  It’ll be fun.  Let me know.


FYI – fyi – For your information

This one can be both written in texts or emails, AND can also be pronounced.  You can say to someone “F-Y-I”.  This is the only one in this lesson that you can both text AND say.  It just means “For your information”.  The idea is you are telling them some information or news that they may find interesting or useful.


Hey Tony,

I just wanted to remind you about the meeting tomorrow morning at 8.  FYI, you should probably try to get there early because the boss loves it when he sees people taking work really seriously.