Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 28 September 2008





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Why acronyms come under abbreviations

As some people were confused as to how acronyms formed part of abbreviations, we decided to clarify it.

If you refer to any standard English dictionary you will know the meaning of ‘acronym.’ Here is the definition given in the “Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary”: “a word formed from the first letters of a group of words, e.g. UNESCO i.e. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.”

Chambers Dictionary of Abbreviations provides a number of acronyms along with abbreviations. That clearly shows acronyms are an integral part of abbreviations.

So, acronyms are abbreviations which could be pronounced as words and this means they usually have vowels. But this is not a rule as such.

The dictionary also favours the use of simple letters (lower case) for many abbreviations which were once written in capital letters (upper case).

Here are a few examples:

Formerly   Now
AIDS         Aids
PM             pm
UNESCO     Unesco

No firm rule can be given for the capitalization and punctuation of abbreviations. It is advisable to follow the latest trend found in standard dictionaries. However, when it comes to punctuations abbreviations and contractions should generally be followed by a full point (fullstop or period) unless the shortened form consists of upper case initials or is a recognised acronym pronounced as a single word. e.g.: BBC, USSR, Fiat.

In a mixture of upper and lower case too, full points are used e.g.: Ltd., Ph.D., St.

The trend now is not to use a full point after Mr., Mrs. Ms (Miss), Revd. (not rev) or Dr.

However, suffixes like Esq. take a point and are proceeded by a comma.

Initials of names too take a point.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
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