Today, we often communicate online rather than face-to-face. We write emails, send texts or ‘chat’ to our friends or family members back home using WeChat or Whatsapp. This kind of writing is very different to making up stories or planning an IELTS essays! Online communication is very informal and uses lots of slang (informal language), abbreviations (the short form of a word or phrase) and acronyms (using the first letter of each word in a phrase)! These can be hard to understand at first so here are some common items you might see online and their all-important meanings.


  Word or phrase When would I use it? For example?
TKS/THX Thanks All the time to be polite Thx for my coffee!
AFAIK As far as I know When you are not 100% certain about something and could be wrong A: How do I get to the British Museum?

B: You take the tube to Russell Square AFAIK

TBH To be honest


To say what you really think which may not be something the person wants to hear… TBH I’m too tired to meet tonight. Can we do tomorrow?
BTW By the way Adding a comment to a conversation that is not the main point Yes, I’ll meet you at 1pm… oh, BTW the restaurant is cash only
FYI For your information Often used in emails to show that something will be important for you to read FYI – I got this email from Jenny. She has some advice about IELTS. Have a look!
IRL In real life To do something in person or face-to-face instead of online. This phrase became popular during the pandemic and lockdown when we could only see people online. It’s nice to meet you online – I hope we can meet IRL one day?
LOL Laugh out loud To find something really funny A: The teacher fell off their chair!
OMG Oh my god To find something surprising or shocking A: Did you know Abdul got 8 in his IELTS??
B: OMG that’s amazing
NP No problem Something is okay A: I’m running a bit late, sorry!
IDK I don’t know Don’t know the answer A: Is Sarah coming to dinner tomorrow?

B: IDK! She hasn’t text me.

TTYL Talk to you later Saying goodbye  A: See you tonight! 


ILY(SM) I love you (so much) I love you!! A: I’ll cook dinner tonight


SMH Shaking My Head Showing disappointment  A: I didn’t enjoy the movie we watched yesterday

B: SMH, I thought it was great!

IKR I know right I completely agree A: Our new teacher is so boring


IDC  I don’t care When you don’t have an opinion A: Shall we eat Italian or Japanese for dinner?


DW Don’t worry No problem A: I’m going to be 10 minutes late

B: Don’t worry, me too!



If you want to keep improving your English for every context, why not try our online or face-to-face English classes? Visit the website to learn more. 

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