Chatting in English

Josef Essberger

The verb "to chat" means to talk (to someone) in a friendly, informal way. Today there are many places on the Internet where you can chat. You can chat with people all over the world, in many languages and about many subjects or topics. These places are usually called "chatrooms" and you can find thousands of them by using the keywords "chat" or "chatroom" in any good search engine.

Sometimes you need to register to enter a chatroom. This means that you need to provide a username and password, and possibly your email address. Your username does not have to be your real name. It can be your nickname or any name you want (if it is not already in use). When you have your username, other people in the chatroom will call you by that name and nobody else can use it.

Chatting is a good way to practise your *informal* English. Messages in a chatroom, are usually short sentences. Sometimes they are not even sentences, but just a few words that are not really correct grammatically but may be typical of the way we speak in a quick conversation with friends.

To save time, people often use abbreviations like TTYL (talk to you later) or IDK (I don't know). You can see a list of some of these abbreviations below.

So don't go to a chatroom to practise "perfect" English. Go to a chatroom to practise casual or informal English and find new friends. You can even use a chatroom to help improve your typing skills if you want.

There are usually two ways to chat in most chatrooms:

  1. In public. (Everyone can see what you say.)
  2. In private. (This is called "person-to-person" or "one-to-one" and you talk directly to one other person. No-one else can see what you say. This is useful to chat with a friend or relative in another country, or to have private lessons with a teacher.)

Here are some of the most common abbreviations people use:

  • 121 One-to-one (Person-to-person) AFK Away from keyboard
  • AKA Also known as
  • ASAP As soon as possible
  • ASL Age/sex/location?
  • B4 Before
  • BBL Be back later
  • BRB Be right back
  • BTW By the way
  • CUZ Because
  • FAQ Frequently asked questions FYI For your information
  • IDK I don't know
  • J/K Just kidding
  • K OK
  • L8R Later
  • LOL Laugh out loud
  • M/F Male or female
  • MSG Message
  • OIC Oh, I see
  • P2P Person-to-person
  • PLZ Please
  • PM Private message
  • SYL See you later
  • TGIF Thank goodness it's Friday THX Thanks
  • TTYL Talk to you later

To chat in English with other EnglishClub visitors, try EnglishClub Chat.

  • abbreviation: short form of a word or phrase
  • informal: not formal; relaxed and unofficial
  • password: secret word or code to get access to something
  • nickname: familiar or humorous name for somebody
  • register: add your name to an official list
  • relative: someone in your family (like brother or uncle)
  • topic: subject (the topic of this article is chatting)
  • username: special and unique name to get access to something

© 2011 Josef Essberger