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Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few years, you can’t have missed the acronym “BTW”. Heard in American TV shows, in YouTube videos or even read in some emails… But what does it mean and why is it used so much today? I’ll give you some answers.
What does it stand for?
BTW is the acronym, or abbreviation, of the English expression “By the way”. It can be translated as “by the way”, “by the way” or “by the way” and can be placed at the beginning or end of a sentence:
- BTW, I saw your dad this morning and bought him a coffee.
- I really love this new song! Oh, BTW, did you know I’m going to see the band in concert next month? Oh, BTW, did you know I’m going to see the band in concert next month?)
Used as an interjection, it is used very often by English speakers in both formal and informal conversations
It is also most often used to make the transition between two subjects that are different: “I’ll be late. I’m gonna be late. Btw, did you get my message about the party?
Generally, by the way shortened to BTW will still be read or said letter by letter.
Where does this expression come from?
It is difficult to date exactly the arrival of this expression in the common language. I think I can safely say that the rise of electronic messaging, and especially of texting in which words often needed to be abbreviated, made it more popular.
In the last few years, the expression and its acronym have been included in many dictionaries, including the famous Cambridge Dictionary, and are now part of the everyday language of English speakers. Some may call it slang, but it’s really more a demonstration of the fluidity and adaptations of a living language like English.
Even non-English speakers have taken to using it, in order to shorten their messages and convey accurate information.
In what situations should it be used?
The great thing about this expression is that you can use it in almost any situation in life! And this, as well in speech as in your emails or text messages.
I could give you a hundred examples, but I’ll stop at just a few, so that you have an overview of the many ways to use it:
- As a reminder: we have an appointment at 7:30 pm. Btw, don’t forget to pick up the cake before you come (the appointment is at 9:30. Btw, don’t forget to get the cake before you come.)
- For further information: we take the train at the Gare de Lyon. Btw, they announced a 30 minute delay (we’re taking the train at Gare de Lyon. Btw, they announced a 30 minutes delay)
- In question: I came back from vacation the day before yesterday. Btw, how did your seminar go? (I came back from holiday the day before yesterday. Btw, how did your seminary go?)
In short, this acronym can be used in all your discussions, whether they are professional or private. In a personal setting, however, make sure that the person to whom you are saying or writing it knows its meaning. If they don’t, you can always teach them and look like a whiz at English!
Read also : What POV mean ?
A shortened abbreviation
Not only is btw the abbreviation of by the way… but it has its own abbreviation!
Well, more than an abbreviation, it is a way of pronouncing it that differs. Used only informally in speech, you can also say and hear “BT Dubs”. Dubs is an abbreviation of the letter W (pronounced “double U”).
This way of saying it is particularly used by teenagers.
Should it be written in upper or lower case?
Whatever you like! Either way is fine.
It is true that it is more often written in lower case, especially in text messages or emails, but the capital letters make absolutely no difference to the pronunciation or understanding.
So you can cross-reference the two spellings.
Another definition of BTW?
Some say that BTW is not only an abbreviation of “by the way”, but also of “between (us)”.
In this case, it would be used in conversations where it would signal an aside. For example: “I have a horrible schedule this week. Btw, I think the new boss doesn’t like me. Just between us, I think the new boss doesn’t like me.”
While this is a credible assumption, many linguists agree that BTW can’t be an acronym for anything other than “by the way.” So if you come across this statement somewhere, you’ll know what to do with it.
As you can see, more than just making you look cool (oh, an Anglicism), using BTW in your emails or text messages will make it easier to shorten your sentences.
Although it is more used in the workplace today, where it will be more easily understood, teenagers who read it constantly on the internet will understand you without any problem.