Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

shorten English words

Do you have a nickname? Do you have a short name that people like to call you because they know you well or because it’s faster and easier?

Just like names can have nicknames, so can words.

We’re going to start with a role play and we want you guys to try to pick out the words that have been shortened, write them down.

Role play:

  • L: Hey Michelle where will you be around 3 pm today? I’m going to call a limo for the AEE team to go for lunch.
  • M: Oh I’ll be in the lab working on my latest experiment on diet and brain functioning.
  • L: Sounds legit. We’ll just meet you at the restaurant then. See ya there.

Today’s topic comes from a question from a listener.

Here it is:

Hi there Lindsay and Michelle,

I just wanna say that I’ve been listening to your podcast for a very long time and I love it. Anyway, I’m writing to you because there are two pretty usual words I hear all the time which I am quite confused with. I am not sure when I actually should use them and when not.

The second word is “yah” meaning “yes”. I just don’t get it why people sometimes use “yah” (like the German “ja”) instead of “yes”. One of my American friends asked me once

why I am always saying “yah” instead of “yes”. However, I hear native English speakers using “yah”/”yeah”/”jep” instead of “yes” a lot of times.

I hope you both can give me a helping hand regarding this issue.

Best regards,

Pascal from Switzerland


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To answer your question, we shorten words in English all of the time to make them easier and quicker to pronounce.

For example:

Yes= yeah (more casual)


Are shortened versions of words always more casual?

Shortened versions of words aren’t ALWAYS more casual.

They can be more casual than the full version sometimes.


Examples of shortened words that are common in English:

  • Laboratory= “lab”
  • Limousine= “limo”
  • To the maximum= “to the max”
  • Legitimate= “legit”
  • Rehabilitation= “rehab”
  • University= “uni” only in Australia
  • Vegetarian, vegetables= “veggie”

Here is a full list of many more words that we like to shorten in English.


What questions or comments do you have from today?

Let us know in the comments below.

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