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10 Common English Initials Explained to English as a Second Language Students

Updated on September 22, 2012
FAQ on initials? Here is a list of the ten most common English initialisms that English as a Second Language students must know.
FAQ on initials? Here is a list of the ten most common English initialisms that English as a Second Language students must know. | Source

Initials or initialisms are very common in the English language.

They are formed by getting the first letters of an expression and putting these letters together.

They are also considered as a form of abbreviations or shortened versions of words.

Many initials are acronyms, abbreviations of words that can be read as a word.

Still, not all initials are acronyms.

This is because only abbreviations that can be read as words are acronyms.

Those with their letters individually pronounced are not.

Below is a list of the ten most common initials or initialisms in the English language.

They are being explained for the benefit of English as a Second Language learners.


The English initialism ASAP stands for as soon as possible. It means that something is urgent and cannot be delayed.


You have to deliver a new wedding cake ASAP! The first one just got dropped and smashed!

2. c/o

The English initialism c/o means care of. It is often used when sending something to one person through another person or other people.


Right now, he’s homeless. We’re sending him money c/o our parents so he can get it when he comes over.

3. DIY

DIY English initialism represents do it yourself. It refers to things that must be built or describes a person who likes building.


I go for natural, homemade, and DIY beauty products. I am a DIY girl who makes her own face mask, scrub, moisturizer, and cleanser.

4. e.g. / i.e.

The initialisms e.g. indicates the Latin expression exempli gratia while i.e. is for the Latin id est. e.g. means for example in English while i.e. means in other words or that is to say.


We are a large domestic company that wants to become global and expand in countries with huge earning potentials – e.g. Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

The rent for the reception venue is quite expensive – i.e. we have to start and end the reception on time.

5. FAQ

FAQ is the English initialism for frequently asked questions. It refers to the common queries that people have. Most FAQs have corresponding answers.


The website of the tax revenue ministry has an FAQ on how to compute for the different kinds of tax.

6. FYI

FYI is the English initialism for for your information. It usually introduces an important message or a caveat.


FYI, management has just announced that pay rise would be postponed this year. Share this information with all our union members.

7. HQ

The English initialism HQ means headquarters. It refers to the main office of a company or an organization with several branches.


Even though our company has many branches in large cities across the world, our HQ is still in the small town where our founder first built his business empire.

8. N/A

N/A is the English initialism that signifies not applicable. It is commonly used when a question or needed information is not appropriate or relevant.


You can just write down N/A to answer the survey questions that are not relevant to you.


RSVP stands for the French expression Repondez S'il Vous Plait. In English, it simply means please reply. It is commonly used for events where invited guests are requested to confirm their attendance.


The wedding invitation has an RSVP so I have to say whether I’ll be coming. They’re making a head count for the reception.

10. VIP

VIP is the initialism for very important person. Usually, VIPs get preferential treatment.


The movie actor is a VIP. He shall be billeted in the hotel suite and be chauffeured in the top-class sedan.

Copyright © 2011 Kerlyn Bautista

All Rights Reserved


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    • profile image

      salah allani 6 years ago

      Thank you. It's very useful lesson.

    • profile image

      Hubertsvoice 6 years ago

      Another very good lesson.

    • asmaiftikhar profile image

      asmaiftikhar 6 years ago from Pakistan

      Dear k one more informative hub.keep it up! thanks for sharing that useful information.voted up! keep it up!