Texting, instant messaging, and communicating online have become increasingly popular over the past few years. Many people have a computer, tablet, smartphone, or cellphone that allows them to speak with others use written messages, like texts. As technology has evolved, so has the English language. A whole new variety of words, phrases, and slang has developed through texting. Many of these phrases are actually acronyms, meaning each letter stands for a word.
Here are some of the most popular and most commonly used texting slang by American teenagers.
This saying means “laugh out loud.” People use to show that they are laughing or that they find something funny.
“That joke was hilarious LOL (laugh out loud).”
This acronym means “oh my god.” Just like in everyday speech, English speakers use this saying to express surprise or shock.
To show surprise, someone might say something like, “OMG (oh my god)! I can’t believe she is dating him!”
To show shock, they might say, “OMG (oh my god)! You scared me!”
NVM is a shortened version of the word “never mind.” If you aren’t aware, “never mind” is when someone is trying to change the direction of a conversation, or have changed their mind about something.
“NVM (never mind), I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
“NVM (never mind), I can’t go because it is too expensive.”
This stands for “just kidding.” This phrase is used to show that someone is joking or that a statement shouldn’t be taken seriously.
“I am going to be left back a year because I failed all of my finals. JK! I passed them all :)”
Sometimes when people text, they use a number instead of a word. For example, many texters use the number 2 as the replacement for the words “to” or “too.” This is because the number 2 and these words are pronounced the same way. It also makes typing a little bit faster. Below are two different ways someone might use the number 2 in a text.
To: “I am going 2 (to) the store. Do you want anything?”
Too: “My little brother is being 2 (too) loud!”
The number 4 is another number that sometimes replaces a word. Since it is pronounced the same way, 4 can used in place of the word “for.”
“I need to buy a present 4 (for) them.”
Other times, numbers can replace part of a word. For example, the number 8 is pronounced the same way as the word or sound “ate.” Because of this, texters will put the letter 8 into the word “great.” It looks like this: GR8. The idea is that it should still be pronounced the same way as the original word.
“That concert was so GR8 (great)!
It isn’t just numbers that can replace words. Single letters can replace words too! For example, American teenagers my use the letter “u” to replace the word “you” because they are pronounced the same way.
“I can’t wait to see u (you)!”
This concept also applies to the letter “y” which is often used to stand for the word “why.”
“Y (why) do you look so upset?”
The “BC” used in texting is not referring to the calendar year as in “4000 BC.” Instead, it is a shortened version of the word “because.”
“I don’t want to go bc (because) I don’t like scary movies.”
This abbreviation stands for the word “please.” It can be spelled with either a “z” or a “s.” There is no right or wrong way to spell it.
“Can I get that for my birthday pls (please)?”
This might be one of the most confusing text slang words. TOM stands for “tomorrow.” But sometimes you might get confused and think they are talking about a person named Tom! Make sure to really look at the context of the sentence so you can understand if they are talking about the time or a person.
“Let’s meet TOM (tomorrow) at the park.”
See how that can be tricky?
“ILU” is an acronym for “I love you.” Use this to show your love for someone!
“Goodnight Mom ILU (I love you).”
This stands for the phrase “to be honest.” People say this phrase they are expressing their honest opinion.
“I really don’t like your boyfriend TBH (tbh).”
Now you know a bunch of slang that is common in texting! You can use them yourself when you text or refer to this article if you don’t understand some of the slang your friends use. Be careful when using text slang, however. It is fine to use when communicating with friends, but is usually considered unprofessional in the work place. Make sure not to put slang when texting or emailing your boss! If you want to learn even more American slang, phrases, or idioms, check out the other resources here on Spoken English Practice. You can also get a native English tutor to help you perfect your slang or improve your English altogether!