Latin has had a big influence on the English language. Sometimes it's obvious — for example, many legal and scientific terms are taken directly from Latin and would sound unnatural in most conversations. On the other hand, there are many more words and expressions that sound like "regular" English that also have Latin roots.
Because there are too many examples to cover in only one article, this time we're focusing only on some of the most common Latin abbreviations. You may know some of these abbreviations already, but perhaps you didn't know that they're all shortened forms of a Latin word or expression. In fact, many native English speakers don't even realize it! Let's take a closer look.
Commonly Used Latin Abbreviations
This comes from the Latin term "et cetera," meaning "and other things" or "and the rest." It usually comes at the end of a sentence and is used to refer to additional things that are similar to what you have just mentioned.
Note that etc. is only used for things, not people. In written English, "et al." — another Latin abbreviation that means "and others" — is used to refer to people. It's most common when talking about writers of books and research papers, but it is occasionally used in daily situations.
This abbreviation is short for "curriculum vitae," which means "course of life." A CV is similar to a résumé, and sometimes they are used interchangeably.* However, a CV is usually longer and includes more detailed information about a person's education and interests, not only their skills and work experience. CVs are more common in the UK, while résumés are more common in the US.
"i.e." is from "id est" in Latin, meaning "that is." Use it when you want to explain something you have just mentioned, or say it in a slightly different way.
While you can use i.e. in a spoken conversation, it is more common in writing. When speaking, people often say "in other words."
"e.g." is also primarily used in written English. It's an abbreviation of "exempli gratia," which means "for example." Use it before giving a specific example of something you have just mentioned.
These two abbreviations are great examples of things we say every day without thinking much about what they mean. It turns out that "a.m" stands for "ante meridiem," while "p.m." stands for "post meridiem." In English, these terms mean "before midday" and "after midday," respectively. Pretty simple, right?
Have you ever seen "PS" at the end of a letter someone has written to you? It's from the Latin "post scriptum," or "written after," and is used when something is added after the signature in a letter or email.
PS Please water my plants while I'm away!
This is short for "Philosophiae Doctor," or "Doctor of Philosophy." This is a very high-level degree that requires many years of study. It's commonly used both with and without periods.
It can also be used as a noun to refer to a person who has this degree.
This is pronounced "versus" and is sometimes written the same way. It means "against," and you probably know it very well if you like sports, video games or almost any kind of competition.
Latin is Everywhere
Many people don't realize just how much Latin there is in the modern English we use all the time. As mentioned before, the abbreviations we've featured here are only a small sample of all of the words with Latin roots. Perhaps we'll look at some other examples in a future article!