Have you ever asked or wondered what an acronym is? Perhaps you thought about what the difference was between an abbreviation or an acronym. When it comes to acronyms, there are some who see them one way, while others do not. Opinions on acronyms vary depending on the source you use. Still, while some minor issues may be viewed differently, the basics about them are the same. Here’s all you need to know about acronyms to help you with any questions you may be having about them.
What Are Acronyms?
One of the questions many English students and people ask is what are acronyms? According to dictionaries, by definition, acronyms are an abbreviation put together from the initial letters contained in other words. Once those letters are taken together, then it is pronounced or spelled as a whole word. A prime example of a widely used and famous acronym is NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Others are AIDS – (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and Scuba – (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus).
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So in short, acronyms are created from the very first letter contained in each word. The word that ends up being abbreviated and becomes something like ATM – automated teller machine. Traditionally, acronyms mainly use a period. However, in modern day usage, most don’t use the periods at all. In case you have a question or are unsure about a particular acronym, simply consult a dictionary to see.
We All Use Acronyms
In many instances, the majority of people end up using acronyms on a daily basis. Furthermore, most of the time they may not even realize they are using them at all. There are a lot of times when acronyms are not necessarily formed from an entire abbreviated word. In some of these cases, the first syllables of words end up leading to the acronym being formed.
A prime example is the NABISCO name brand. Most of us know that NABISCO stands for delicious snacks and cookies as far as the brand goes. But when it comes to the actual acronym or what the word really means, only the first 3 letters – National Biscuit Company – are actually part of the abbreviation. Whether it’s used for marketing or to condense longer terms together to make things easier, acronyms are an integral part of modern society.
Acronyms vs Abbreviations
Sometimes called initialism, acronyms are not always abbreviations, though many consider them so. However, they are a subset of them. The difference is that unlike acronyms, abbreviations often contain periods. Unlike acronyms – which are read as an entire word – abbreviations are read outloud by sounding off each letter individually. Examples are the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) – an abbreviation and OPEC – (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) – an acronym.
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Sticklers and grammarist will often argue and have differences of opinions on what constitutes an abbreviation or an acronym. Some say that they are both the same. Still, there are many English grammar rules which often cause differences of opinions and views. In the end, just remember that acronyms will form a word via an abbreviation. On the other hand, an abbreviation will just shorten a phrase or word.