Popular Texting Abbreviations: Acronyms and Contractions

Whether you use SMS, or an instant messaging app on your smartphone or tablet, you’ll have seen some words that just don’t look like normal English. even if you knew all the words in the dictionary, it would be hard to understand a lot of instant messages in English because of all the slang and abbreviations people use.

Don’t worry, though. It’s actually quite easy to understand English in instant messages. Most instant message slang falls into two categories: acronyms and contractions. Once you understand these, you’ll be able to master SMS or instant messaging in English.


Acronyms are made of the first letter of several words (such as UN for United Nations). In instant messaging, people replace common phrases with acronyms. Check out these examples:

OIC – Oh I see.

BRB – Be right back…

BFN –  Bye for now

LOL – Laughing out loud

ASAP – As soon as possible

BTW – By the way…

FYI – For your information…

JK – Just kidding

TTYL – Talk to you later


Contractions in instant messages remove unnecessary parts of words while keeping the meaning clear. You can often take the vowels out of a word and still know the general sound of it. We can also use numbers to replace sounds, for example: the number 8 instead of the sound ‘eight’ in l8r, number 4 instead of ‘for’, or number 2  instead of ‘to’ or ‘too’. Take a look at these example of contractions:

Plz – Please

Thx – Thanks

Cya – See you

L8r – Later

K – OK

U – You

R – Are

B4 – Before

2morro – Tomorrow

Instant messaging with this kind of language can be great fun but remember to use it appropriately. Don’t call your boss ‘m8’ and don’t sign off your emails to clients with ‘TTYL’. Use these acronyms and contractions with your friends when you chat with SMS or instant messaging. Use them in moderation, though. If you have to keep explaining what you write to people, it might be faster to use the full word!

Do you want to learn more? 11 Fun English Social Media Abbreviations and their meaning.