Abbreviations & Punctuation

Common abbreviations and English Punctuation marks

Instructor: Mr. Michael Krigline, MA   ♦

I expect all of my students to understand these basic abbreviations in English

  • (adj): adjective
  • (adv): adverb
  • AmE: American English
  • ans: answer
  • ASAP: as soon as possible
  • avg: average
  • BrE: British English
  • [c]: countable noun
  • EFL/ESL: English as a Foreign Language/English as a Second Language
  • e.g.: abbreviation for “for example,” used to introduce an illustration or sample (from Latin: exempli gratia)
  • esp: especially
  • i.e.: abbreviation for “that is,” used to introduce an explanation (from Latin: id est)
  • LDOCE: Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (my favorite dictionary for English-learners; see our standards and uses page)
  • (n): noun
  • NPU, PKU, MIT, etc.: These are the abbreviations for university names. (You can usually substitute the abbreviation for any university.) These initials stand for Northwestern Polytechnical University (西北工业大学), Peking University (北京大学), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • RSVP: please reply/respond (from French)
  • sb: someone/somebody
  • sth: something
  • TEFL/TESL: Teaching English as a Foreign (or Second) Language
  • TS: topic sentence
  • [u]: uncountable (or non-count) noun
  • [u&c]: noun that can be uncountable or countable, depending on the meaning or usage in a particular sentence
  • (v): verb
  • [vi]: intransitive verb
  • [vt]: transitive verb
  • [vti]: verb that is transitive or intransitive, depending on the meaning or usage in a particular sentence

English punctuation marks (you should know all of these)

  • ’ apostrophe; friends, friend’s
  • * asterisk or star
  • ( ) (AmE) parenthesis, parentheses; (BrE) rounded brackets
  • [ ] (AmE) brackets; (BrE) square brackets
  • : colon
  • ; semi-colon
  • ! exclamation point
  • . period
  • , comma
  • / slash
  • ? question mark
  • “ ” quotation marks
  • ‘ ’ (AmE) single quotation marks
  • … ellipsis
  • – hyphen
  • — (or –) dash
  • _ underscore
  • underline (a line under text for emphasis)
  • italics (text in this format for emphasis)

©2015 Michael Krigline. See our Website Standards and Use Policy.

Monthly English Corner & Weekly Quote

  • June English Corner

    Here’s a tip to help improve your reading comprehension. When reading an article or chapter in a book, first read the first and last paragraphs. Then go to each of the subsequent paragraphs and just read the first sentence. Then skim or read quickly through the entire article. This will help you to get ahold of the main ideas and thereby greatly improve your comprehension. Understand the main idea; when reading, it is not necessary to understand all of the new vocabulary words. When many internationals read, they translate every word they don’t understand in a passage. This is known as the Grammar/Translation method and it’s an ineffective way of learning which takes far too much time. Try out the reading method I’ve just described, and I’ll see you next time at the English Corner.  © Mark Peter, M.A. Used with permission.

    Mr. Peter was my colleague at the Agape English Language Institute of Limestone College (Columbia, SC). After teaching ESL to recent immigrants and long-term visitors in the SC Public School System for several years, he returned to China (teaching English in Ningxia). Mark is currently teaching back in the US.


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