How to 'say' abbreviations in English


Often, you will come across abbreviations in your reading and, if you are required, you will need to know how to 'say' the complete words, especially if you are reading 'aloud'.

By the way, if you want to learn a way to 'read aloud' to your audience read my blog article here.

Let's start with numbers.


1 — first

2 — second

3 — third

4 — fourth

5 — fifth

6, 7 , 8, 9,10, 11, and 12 all end in ‘th’.

13—19— thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth and 20 is twentieth.

Then, we start over with 21—twenty-first, 22— twenty-second, etc.

101— hundred and first, etc.

999, 353 is nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, three hundred and fifty-third.

1,000,000— one millionth.

1,000,000,000—one billionth.

They are often written as 1st, (first) 2nd, (second) 3rd, (third) 4th, (fourth) 5th, 6th, 7th etc.

2,300 can be ‘said’ as ‘two thousand three hundred’ or ‘23 hundred’.

‘K’ is often used to represent a thousand. So, 5K is 5,000. We can also say "five K".

These are very useful to know, learn, and use.

On a calendar, often the days of the week are abbreviated.

Days of the week

Mon Monday

Tue Tuesday

Wed Wednesday

Thu Thursday

Fri Friday

Sat Saturday

Sun Sunday

So, too, are months of the Year

Months of the year

Jan January

Feb February

Mar March

Apr April

May May

Jun June

Jul July

Aug August

Sep September

Oct October

Nov November

Dec December

Another set of abbreviations is Temperatures


Often, you will see temperatures expressed in ‘shorthand’.

Temperatures take two forms: C and F.

C is Celsius  /ˈselsiəs/ and F is Fahrenheit. /ˈfærənhaɪt/ Some countries (USA) use Fahrenheit while most others (Australia, NZ, UK) use Celsius.

The freezing point in Celsius is zero while 32 degrees is freezing in Fahrenheit.

The small circle you see beside the number is ‘said’ as ‘degree/s’.

 One degree, /dɪˈɡriː/ or 26 degrees./dɪˈɡriːz/

So, in the picture that shows projected global warming, you would ‘say’ “four degrees C” or “four degrees Celsius”.

Other abbreviations are associated with metric measurements.

Measurement of length, weight and volume

There are two systems of measurement used in the world.

The US uses Imperial while many other countries have converted to Metric. Look at this picture. Next week, I will explain how to ‘say’ the metric forms.

The picture shows the metric terms abbreviated.


(30 cm is about a foot/12 inches.)

The abbreviation ‘cm’ is said as ‘centimeter’ (or ‘centimetre’ in US).

 The pronunciation is the same: /sentɪˌmiːtə(r)/

The abbreviation ‘m’ is ‘metre’ (or meter). /miːtə(r)/

/kɪləˌmiːtə(r) or /kɪˈlɒmɪtə(r)/ (km) is the pronunciation of ‘kilometer/kilometre’. (kms) ‘kilometers’ or ‘kilometres’ are the spellings of the plurals.


(a kilogram of sugar)

The abbreviation ‘kg’ is pronounced /ˈkɪləˌɡræm/. ‘g’ is ‘gram’.(singular). ‘grams’ is plural.


(a litre/liter of water)

/liːtə(r)/ is the pronunciation of ‘litre/liter’. The abbreviation is ‘l’.

Let's look at some other abbreviated forms used in English.

Other abbreviations

Email addresses

The main one we are interested in here is the @ sign. It is said "at".

So, the email address "Michael @ hotmail .com" (the spaces are intentional) is said:

"Michael at hotmail dot com".

URLs / Websites

www . apexenglishtutoring . com . au (again spaces are intentional) is said as "w-w-w dot apexenglishtutoring dot com dot a-u." If you see this sign/character '/' it is said as "slash" or "forward slash" while '\' is said "backslash".

Latin abbreviations

Many Latin abbreviations are used in English.

Here are some you will see often in your reading.

'etc' - is 'said' as "et cetera". It means 'and so on'.

'i.e' - means 'that is' and is said as "i-e" or 'that is'.

'e.g.' - means 'for example', sometimes said as "e-g".

'et al' - often used in academic writing, referring to multiple authors of a source, it means 'and others'. It is said as "et al".


In this article, I have explained a number of common abbreviations in English that are 'said' in full when reading 'out loud'. They are useful to learn to improve your spoken English.

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