I was thinking about acronyms the other day, when I was asked about them during a webinar I was leading about connecting successfully with British teams. The question was about whether acronyms should be used or avoided, which got me thinking this was a good topic to share with you as well.
Acronyms are an abbreviation consisting of the first letters of each word, usually used only in writing. They are becoming increasingly popular, especially in online interactions, whether for work emails or social media.
Some people consider them a bad thing & I sometimes agree. Just like other jargon or sector/ company language, it can create specific cultural references, which exclude others who are not in the know. It’s the opposite of simple, clear English language, which everyone can understand.
However, acronyms can also create connection & inclusivity within a group, as long as everyone knows what they mean!
Many of my clients find English acronyms tricky, no matter how good their English communication skills are, especially as new ones are emerging all the time. You need to know the key ones & when they’re appropriate to use in a work context.
There are literally hundreds of acronyms for particular sectors & departments, so here are my top general acronyms I recommend to know. I have given you the ‘translation’ for each one and an example how to use it, so you can start to experiment with them yourself.
BTW: By the Way.
BTW I have been meaning to ask you how things are going on with the new book project.
TBH: To Be Honest.
I like the way you’ve approached this section, but TBH we need to rethink these areas of the proposal.
LMK: Let Me Know.
I’m going to set up a meeting with George & Sarah next week. LMK if you can make Tuesday at 12pm.
AKA: Also Known As.
My name is Victoria Rennoldson, AKA Perfect Cuppa English.
COP: Close Of Play.
EOD: End Of Day
Do you think you can get back to me with that data by COP/ EOD?
OOO: Out Of Office.
Even if I’m not going away anywhere, I’m definitely OOO & switching off.
TIA: Thanks In Advance.
Would you mind sending me the latest update by Friday? TIA.
WFH: Work From Home.
WFH is not just a temporary trend, there is a fundamental shift in working patterns which will continue after Covid.
IRL: In Real Life.
It’s amazing to think about the number of new people I’ve met through online networking in the last year but have never actually met IRL.
There is one acronym which I would advise you don’t use- IMO: In My Opinion or IMHO: In My Humble Opinion. I was asked about this recently & it sounds a little bit arrogant & like you’re trying to argue with the other person! Stick to saying alternatives like: ‘I think’ or ‘I wonder’.
And finally, Obvs. This isn’t actually an acronym, but an informal abbreviation, but I’m going to bend the rules & include this here as I think this is really good British one. It’s short for ‘obviously’, and it came into widespread use after a character used it on the TV reality show, The Only Way is Essex (also known by the acronym TOWIE). It’s used informally & with a cheeky smile to explain when something should be obvious to everyone. For example: You can join the meeting via zoom. Obvs.