I got this information from an English book.

In informal spoken language, people often use the letters of the alphabet (usually no more than a, b and c), to list points they want to make.

Stella: Why aren't you going this evening?

Adam: Well, a) I haven't got any money, and b) it's too far anyway.

I suppose, Adam will say:

Well, ei I haven't got any money, and bi it's too far.

I mean, I've never heard someone says like that (at least on films or Youtube). Is it still popular? There was someone told me that studying grammar through books sometimes not always useful since some of those books are antiquated. I just want to confirm whether this style is still used, and someday when I use this people won't think that my English is bad.

  • I enumerate my reasons like this (or with numbers 1, 2, 3...) when I'm being very firm about my conclusion. It's fairly assertive and can come off rude.
    – gotube
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 8:15

2 Answers 2


It's possible, but not very common. It's not dated or antiquated. It could sound a bit odd if done too much. The example is natural enough, you could use it to add a bit of variety to how you speak.

Note, in speaking British or American English avoid using the work "alphabet" to mean "letter". "A" and "B" are letters. They are not "alphabets". An alphabet is a whole collection "ABCD...Z" or the Greek alphabet is "alpha beta gamma delta ... omega".

  • I've changed the alphabet to letter in the title. Thanks for your suggestion.
    – user516076
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 5:51
  • I might use it occasionally if I need to explain several reasons for something - but I'm older and don't use a lot of modern slang. It's imitating the way explanations are set out in textbooks. I wouldn't call it popular, but it's not that unusual. Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 7:34

It's common enough in my experience. As a native speaker of America English, I think I've listed things out with letters like that in the last week or two.

I also found some spoken examples I can quote.

Found in COCA:

  • A, they think you're evil, and B, they don't want to talk to you. — Fox News: The Five (2019)

  • Like I, A, like my personality. And B, I need energy. — NPR (2017)

  • ... more effective at A, hiding from enemies, and B, hiding from their prey — Fresh Air (2016)

  • So as you pop it backout and you want to look at 99 percent of the map filling in, A, doesn't get much closer than that, B, both campaign is going to look at this closely and C, you would have to say slight advantage to Clinton at the moment and Wolf, as I get to D what D is do you do next? — CNN (2016)

  • They tell you it's really tough to get above seventy because A, you're driving a car you're not used to. B, it's a tight, windy course. And C, the way that everything comes at you, you feel like you're going faster than you are — CBS (2010)

Found in BNC:

  • A a revolution is taking place and B we have got to lead it and it, it's a rural revolution — Student seminar on Hunan report (1993)

  • A because we haven't got that much time and B because the little bit more pressure you're under the more likely likely to leave certain things out so maybe you've got the point. — Training session (1994)

  • This just says the following should be elected, A, Chair, B, Secretary and C, Treasurer — Amnesty International meeting (1992)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .