In English, and in many other languages, people's given names (not family names) have two forms: a formal form and an informal form. The informal form is usually shorter, to make it more convenient. It is also sometimes called a diminutive or short form.
Mostly these diminutives start with the same letters as the formal name. Here are some examples:
|Formal name||-||Diminutive||Formal name||-||Diminutive||Formal name||-||Diminutive|
|Andrew||-||Andy||Edward||-||Ed / Eddy||Patricia / Patrick||-||Pat|
|Alan||-||Al||Elizabeth||-||Eliza / Liz / Beth||Peter||-||Pete|
|Alexander||-||Al / Alec / Alex / Sandy||Frederick||-||Fred / Freddy||Richard||-||Dick / Ricky|
|Alfred||-||Al / Fred||Geoffrey||-||Geoff (pron. "Jeff")||Robert||-||Bob / Bert|
|Benjamin||-||Ben / Benny||Harold||-||Harry||Samantha / Samuel||-||Sam|
|Caroline||-||Carol||James||-||Jim / Jimmy||Susan||-||Sue / Susie|
|Catherine||-||Cath / Cathy||Jennifer||-||Jenny / Jennie||Terrence||-||Terry|
|Christopher||-||Chris||Kenneth||-||Ken / Kenny||Timothy||-||Tim|
|David||-||Dave / Davy||Michael||-||Mike, Mick, Mickey||Victoria||-||Vicky|
|Daniel||-||Dan / Danny||Nicholas||-||Nick / Nicky||Victor||-||Vic|
You can use the short form of a person's name when:
Do not use diminutives in formal or legal situations, unless the person is using the short form themselves.
Use the full name when warning or criticising a child; e.g. "Alexander Edward Smith, I told you not to do that!"
Do not use a diminutive that someone doesn't like, for example, if someone calls themselves 'Liz', do not call them 'Eliza' or 'Beth'.
Related materials: a list of other names and the related gender.
Here is a practice exercise to help you to remember some of these diminutives. Some of the answers are in the list above, the others you can work out for yourself.
Match the items in the boxes on the left with the items on the right:
hits since .
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