Abbreviations Part 1

Here are some basic abbreviations in English:



RSVP means “répondez s’il vous plaît” which is a French phrase that means “Please respond”.  You’ll see this on invitations to parties and events. People can speak this one too, even as a verb:

“I invited my brother to my wedding but he hasn’t RSVPed yet and I’m getting worried he won’t show.”




ASAP means “as soon as possible” and is both written and spoken. “I need the sales report soon, get it back to me A.S.A.P.”

It is so common that some people even pronounce it like a word: “I’ll get back to you ASAP.”



N/A is an abbreviation that is not said aloud. It stands for “Not applicable” and is seen on tables or reports. When I am filling out an application form for something and it has a spot for me to list my home phone number I would write “N/A”, since I don’t have a landline only a cell phone. That question or condition does not apply to me.



This one means “Too much information” and is usually said in response to someone telling you something that should be private information (oversharing).

“Your mom and I kissed on our first date.”

“Woah Dad, TMI. I don’t want to hear that stuff.”




This one means “Point of View” , and talks about seeing the world from someone else’s eyes. This one is usually only written:

“I was angry at my sister, but when I thought about it from her POV I understood,” the boy said to his friend.

But when talking about video games or movies people can speak it:

“This entire game is from the zombie’s POV”


Sometimes, despite all your study and practice, you might have trouble understanding someone when in a conversation with a native speaker. There are several ways to ask for clarification.
On the very casual end you can use phrases like:


What was that?”,

Excuse me?”.

But you have to be careful with these phrases as they imply that the speaker wasn’t clear. These can sound rude in the wrong situation.

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“Excuse me, where is the library?”

For listener problems it’s best to use more polite phrases that make it clear that the speaker isn’t making the error.

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“Pardon?” Is ok, but doesn’t identify your own problem.
Start with an apology, identify your problem and make a polite request.

I’m sorry, you spoke too fast for me, could you please repeat that?

“I’m sorry, you spoke too fast for me, could you please repeat that?”


Note: “I’m sorry, you spoke too fast, could you repeat that?” is bad because you are saying they made the mistake.
Sorry, I didn’t catch that. Could you say it again?

“Sorry, I didn’t catch that. Could you say it again?”

Is more casual but acceptable.


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Pet Peeve

What is your Pet Peeve? What is the thing that annoys you but doesn’t annoy other people? Something that bothers you even if you know that it’s really not that important in the grand scheme of things.
My pet peeve is people being late. Like always late. Like they have a chronic disease and lateness is the symptom.


If I’m going to meet someone and they waltz up ten minutes late without a word of apology then that gets under my skin (“get under one’s skin” means to deeply annoy or bother).

Other pet peeves I have?

People who don’t cover their mouths when coughing.


People who check their phones while in conversation with you.


People who park poorly in parking lots.

I wouldn’t say I ‘hate’ this stuff, that’s too strong a word. Sure all of these things seem to annoy everyone to some degree, but they are more of a personal annoyance to me.

Like a pet. A very annoying pet.


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Salary and Wage

Salary and wage are fairly similar but there is a big difference. Both refer to the money you get for a job, but one is a fixed amount and one is an hourly amount.

If you get hired at a job that pays $52,000 a year then that is a salary. Some companies in North America pay you once a week (payday!) and so you would get $1,000 every week. Although your job might have set hours (9-5) you won’t lose pay if you are sick, late or there is a holiday. You may get in trouble for being sick or late, but it won’t affect your salary.

A job that pays $10 an hour is giving you a wage. You get paid for how many hours you work in a pay period (maybe every week or every two weeks). If you worked 40 hours you get $400, if you worked 20 you get $200. Being sick, late or having holidays means that you didn’t work certain hours and you will make less money.

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Both positions do usually offer overtime pay if you work more than 40 hours in a week or on holidays. This isn’t always the case with salaried positions, but it does happen frequently.

Home and House


The difference between “Home” and “House” is subtle, but they are very different. A ‘home’ is where a person or family lives.

A house is just a building.
If a family lives in a house then that house is their home. If they live in an apartment then that apartment is their home. If a place is your permanent residence then it is your home. A home is an abstract place, it is different to everyone. A student may live in the dormitory at university, but probably wouldn’t consider that a home. If someone lives alone in a small apartment they may consider that their home, or they may still consider their childhood home as their real home.
“I’m going home” and “I’m going to my house” can have the same meaning. If you live in a house.
“I’m going home” and “I’m going to my apartment” can have the same meaning, if you live in an apartment.
“I’m going to my friend’s house” is a common expression.
“I’m going to my friend’s home” sounds just a little strange. It’s his home, not yours.
Home country, homestay, homeowner, home schooled… ‘home’ can also be an adjective. It’s the place where you live, the place you belong, the space that belongs to you. ‘House’ is just a building.

We even have the expression “Make a house a home” referring to doing things like decorating, having kids, getting pets… anything to make the building feel like a home to you.

“Cheer”, “Cheer on” and “Cheer up”

The verb “cheer” and the phrasal verbs “cheer on” and “cheer up” may sound similar but they have very different meanings.
To “cheer” means a loud cry that shows approval or excitement.

“Everyone in the audience cheered loudly after the stellar play.”

“The baseball stadium was overwhelmed with the sound of cheering fans.”
To “cheer on” means to encourage someone by cheering (the verb we just talked about). “The crowd cheered on the final runner in the marathon.”

Again this involves loud cries, and is usually used at competitions. It usually happens in crowds, but a single person can do it too:

“The rest of the audience was silent, but Thomas stood up and loudly cheered on his daughter during the talent show.”

To “cheer someone on” with more mundane tasks is possible, but would be a strange social situation.

“Mary’s boss cheered her on as she worked” would have the boss loudly yelling something like “Hey you can do it!” to his employee.
“Cheer up” is a little different. It means to become happier, and is used when someone is sad.

“I was lonely my first week at uni, but a call from my mom cheered me up.”

“After his daughter lost the talent show Thomas bought her an ice cream to cheer her up.”
If you tell someone to “Cheer up” it means you think they are sad and are telling them to try being happy.
A: “I’m sad that we are moving to a different city.”
B: “Cheer up! You’ll make great new friends quickly.”

“Or so I thought”

“Or so I thought” is an expression that a speaker uses to explain that in the past they had one idea or belief they thought was true- but they were mistaken.
“I was the best runner in my school, or so I thought. But the new transfer student beat me in the 100m dash”.

We start with a belief: I am the best runner. In the second sentence we find out a new fact that contradicts that belief : another student was faster than me. The “or so I though” is the speaker’s way of saying they had a mistaken idea.
In movies or TV sometimes the character won’t fully explain the situation. This gives good dramatic effect as the audience has to think why they were wrong.
“She was the best girlfriend ever, or so I thought.” This implies that he discovered something to make him think she wasn’t a good girlfriend.
“I got home to find my roommate had drank all my beer, or so I thought.”

This could mean two things:

a) the roommate didn’t drink all the beer. Some was leftover.


b) someone else drank the beer, not the roommate.
“Everyone had forgotten my birthday, or so I thought.”

Maybe people pretended to forget the birthday and threw him a surprise party.
“Or so I thought” has other variations:

“Or at least that’s what I thought”,

“Or so I assumed”,

“Or so it seemed”.

But they all carry the same basic meaning.