I had look through the dictionary and found there are short form for “somebody” and “something”, which are “SB” and “sth”. However I couldn’t find a short form for “somewhere”. Is there a short form for “somewhere”?

  • 9
    Those short forms are only used in dictionaries to save space. If you ever see a short form for "somewhere", it will be in a dictionary, and you'll recognize it. I don't know if I've ever seen one.
    – gotube
    Jul 26 at 4:56
  • 4
    Short forms like this require context. For example, you said that "sth" means "something", which may be true, but it doesn't exclusively mean that. If you saw "nth, sth, est, wst", you'd assume that 'sth' stood for 'south' in that context. Following the pattern of your examples for 'somebody' and 'something', you'd expect that 'sw' would be short for 'somewhere', but 'sw' could also be short for 'software'.
    – Astralbee
    Jul 26 at 8:31
  • 13
    You will see "sth" used online, but I have never seen it used by a native speaker. Avoid. Jul 26 at 15:20

The abbreviations sb and sth are only used in dictionaries. They are never used in general writing.

Dictionaries need to save space. They use "sth" and "sb/sby" as a short way of writing these words which are frequently used in definitions.

open (sth): cause (sth) to open

As dictionaries move online, some are now not using these abbreviations.

But learners tend to use dictionaries more often than native speakers, and might think that "sth" and "sb" are in general use. They are not! You would not write:

Sb left a chocolate on my desk today!

Not even as a casual post on Twitter.

So unless you are writing a dictionary, don't use sby or sth. And don't use an abbreviation for somewhere.

  • 7
    To give some numbers to frame the challenge of squeezing the English language into a book on paper, the complete Oxford English Dictionary is printed in twenty volumes and costs a small fortune. In microprint, with a magnifier and nine normal pages per single page, the OED has a compact version, at about a third the price of the twenty volume set, that fits in a single volume that weighs in at over 8kg (46x28cm, and over 9cm thick) and itself has over 2400 real pages (at nine print pages per page). Abbreviations were a necessary evil in the age of print and paper.
    – J...
    Jul 26 at 14:16
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    @nick012000 It's like the difference between a sports coat with jeans vs a jean jacket with dress pants. It's not really clear why one should be acceptable and the other not, but somehow I have only seen "sth" used by non-native speakers, even in txt speak. I would expect "some1" before "sb". Jul 26 at 16:15
  • 4
    @nick012000 Abbreviations aren't nearly as common as people seem to think they are; the use of abbreviations arose from the difficulty of typing on a cell phone number pad, and the proliferation of smartphones with full keyboards (even if virtual) has caused a strong shift in typing habits. It's actually a pretty fascinating case in linguistics.
    – Hearth
    Jul 26 at 16:49
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    @user3067860 or even "sum1", which I've seen from native speakers on Facebook, though luckily not often.
    – Chris H
    Jul 26 at 18:17
  • 3
    I think it's a dialect thing. Whenever I see sth/sb used online, it's usually by a speaker of InE, not AmE or BrE.
    – shoover
    Jul 26 at 22:01

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