Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Initialisms


Writers Write shares writing resources and writing tips. In this post, we look at abbreviations, acronyms. and initialisms.

An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase. Sometimes, we call them acronyms and initialisms.

Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Initialisms

  1. An abbreviation is not pronounced as it is written. Examples: We pronounce Dr as Doctor, Jan. as January, abbr. as abbreviation.
  2. An abbreviation usually ends in a full stop. Examples: subj., etc., Pres., adj., Dec., Fri., Univ.
  3. If the abbreviation ends with the last letter of the word, you do not use a full stop. Examples: Dr, Mr, Mrs, St, Ave, Sgt (This only applies to British English. In American English, you always add a full stop/period.)
  4. If the initial letters of words make up an abbreviation, you do not use a full stop. This is called an initialism and the letters are pronounced separately. Examples: SPCA, UK, HIV, BBC, CIA, UN, CD
  5. If the initials of a group of words form a new word, it is called an acronym. The word is pronounced as spelt and no full stops are used. Examples: NATO, AWOL, Aids, Scuba, Laser, Asap (See Seven Rules for Acronyms)

[Top Tip: If you need practical help with your grammar, buy The Complete Grammar Workbook.]

by Amanda Patterson

© Amanda Patterson

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