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JLeslie's avatar

Do you know all the two letter postal abbreviations for the states?

Asked by JLeslie (59784points) December 16th, 2014 from iPhone

Did you learn them in school? We had to memorize all of them in 8th grade.

I’m pretty sure I would still get all 50 right, plus most of the Canadian provinces and Mexico of course.

Does the whole world have two letter postal abbreviations?

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29 Answers

longgone's avatar

No, I don’t.

“Does the whole world have two letter postal abbreviations?”

No, not at all! There are very different ways to do this.

JLeslie's avatar

@longgone In your country when you write out an address do you write out the state in full? Are there official abbreviations? Back around 35 years ago all the states in the US were formalized to two letter abbreviations for mailing letters.

DominicY's avatar

I do know them, but I’m not entirely sure how I learned them. I’d be interested to take a quiz to see if I could get them all.

Blackberry's avatar

Postal abbreviations? Is that what they’re called? I just thought they were abbreviations, of states. Like CO, WA, NJ, etc? I could probably get 95% of them.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Oh, I remember. I had to memorize them in middle school (7th or 8th grade), and we had a race to see who could write them all down the fastest. I tied for first in speed, but lost because Lynne Weist’s handwriting was so much neater than mine.

It was hard to argue, though. Most typefaces are less legible than her normal handwriting.

zenvelo's avatar

I know them but just from having used them or being aware of them. They’re pretty easy to figure out and to learn. And where it gets a little ambiguous is still easy if you have some historical reference, like knowing Missouri was always known as MO, and that Montana means mountain and the abbreviation is MT.

JLeslie's avatar

@Blackberry We learned them as postal codes. I actually found this that shows a table with the abbreviations used by USPS (postal service) and used by different offices. USPS is no periods, so North Carolina is NC, not N.C. It changed when I was in school, so people older than me often use old abbreviations like Fla. for Florida instead of FL. Others I remember and used myself when I was little were Penn., Mass., Md., D.C. and there are more. When I was school age there were big pushes to write addresses in a more standardized way and there would be ads about using the correct zip code.

I also just found this link if you go down to postal codes it gives some history if you’re interested.

ucme's avatar

Yes I do, I learned from Sesame Street.

longgone's avatar

@JLeslie Well, we don’t have states, but we don’t write out the Bundesland either. What we do is put the name, street + number, and then there’s a five-digit code followed by the town.

ucme's avatar

Over here in englandtown our post code consists of the following:
Letter-Letter-Number-Number-Letter-Letter…note the almost childlike quality in my method :D

JLeslie's avatar

@longgone I don’t know why I thought Germany has states. That is my mistake. What is Bundesland?

longgone's avatar

^ You are not exactly wrong when you say “states”. Germany is split up into sixteen regions, we just don’t call them “states” or the German equivalent. We say “Bundesland”. The different regions have much less power than your states. Basically, though, the concept is similar.

JLeslie's avatar

@longgone Do you have multiple cities with the same name? We do in America. For instance there is a Troy, New York and a Troy, Michigan. A Raleigh, Tennessee and a Raleigh, North Carolina.

Our zip codes are the biggest help to the post office in sorting mail. I would assume writing out the state is an additional check if a zip code is incorrect or difficult to read. I’m guessing writing the state is also probably a hold over from when we didn’t have zip codes.

Do you write Germany on the address? I just wonder since the European Union in some ways is like the United States. We have multiple states making up our country and The European Union has multiple countries. I know it’s not really the same though.

longgone's avatar

Good question. There are some snaller towns with the same names. Don’t know of any bigger ones.

We do not usually write “Germany”. Do you have to specify the state if you’re sending a letter to a city within your own state?

JLeslie's avatar

Yes, we are always supposed to specify the state. A standard address looks like this.

Name of person or business
Street # Street Name apt or suite# if there is one
City, State, Zip code four digit extension is optional

Written out for a house:

John Smith
1245 Paradise Lane
Boca Raton, FL 33433

A business might look like this:

Samson Law offices
965 Saginaw Rd. #405
Flint, MI 48825
Attn: Julie Hermann

Mail might move out of a state and back into the same state to get delivered, because of various hub systems both air and ground. For instance mail that starts in western Florida might fly through Memphis, Tennessee to get down to Miami, Florida. Memphis is actually a huge hub for Federal Express, but all major mail carriers use the same format for addressing mail. United Stated Postal Service (USPS) Federal Express (FedEx) and United Parcel Service (UPS).

longgone's avatar

That makes sense, thanks for explaining!

bossob's avatar

States that start with ‘A’ or ‘M’ give me problems.

They hadn’t started teaching them in school by the time I graduated.

zenvelo's avatar

@JLeslie A bit on the help of zip codes. My parents lived overseas on a lot of different construction projects, so Christmas Cards would arrive from all over eth world.

One time, we received one from Saudi Arabia that was addressed

(My dad’s name)
3075 Street Name

No town, no state, just the zip code. It was delivered accurately and promptly.

JLeslie's avatar

There are a lot of A’s. A girlfriend of mine for a long time thought AK was Arkansas. She thought she was doing business with Arkansas, and eventually realized she was talking to Alaska.

ucme's avatar

I’m slightly surprised schools in the US didn’t have a little song or rhyme to aid with memorising them.
Like with the colours of the rainbow & shit.

JLeslie's avatar

@zenvelo Yes, the zip code is how they sort the mail to the correct main post office, and usually the mailmen who work at that center would easily recognize the street. My dad buys and sells books for a living, and he typically looks up the four digit extension on the zip code, which makes it even easier for the post office. When I lived in Tennessee in a small town the main office for my zip code was in the town next to mine.

Like I said, the state helps if the zip code isn’t clear. There is a correct way to address mail though, and it includes the city, state and zip code.

Mail that isn’t addressed well does usually get to the right person. The post office takes the time eventually to figure it out.

Possibly, I don’t know this for a fact, there is an electronic eye that reads the zip code number and auto sorts. I’d be interested to look up exactly how it is sorted.

zenvelo's avatar

@ucme Time for you to write one!

“AK is for Alaska the machine gun state!
AL for ‘Bama where you find a pal
AZ for Arizona where Sherriff Joe jails from A to Z…”

JLeslie's avatar

AR Arkansas. If we include Canada AB for Alberta.

There are a lot of M’s too. MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MT and Canada MB for Manitoba.

JLeslie's avatar

Short youtube on sorting mail

dappled_leaves's avatar

I usually guess correctly, though often I’ll double-check the Ms (Is Minnesota MI or MN? That kind of thing.). In Canada, we switched to the 2-letter code later than the US (I think). I remember holding out for a long time, because the old abbreviations had more character. Sometimes, I’ll still use them if I’m not thinking about it.

Who wouldn’t rather write “Nfld” than “NL” or “Alta” instead of “AB”?

But presumably, the postal code already tells the post office which state that letter will end up in. I suspect they probably just ignore the state code entirely.

JLeslie's avatar

MS is Mississippi. I forgot that M on my list.

MI is Michigan. MN is Minnesota. I forgot that one too.

The way I remembered them in school was remembering the easy ones that are the first two letters of the name. For instance I memorized Alabama is the AL state, so I know Alaska is AK, so then I know Arkansas is AR. I know Massachusetts is the MA state so I know Maine and Maryland aren’t. Plus, I lived in Maryland so it is especially easy. So, Maine is ME, since it can’t be MA, and I know Michigan is the MI state, which means Mississippi can’t be. For whatever reason it works for me.

JLeslie's avatar

The abbreviations I know and retained. The capitals of states I don’t remember as well. I probably know 35–40 of the state capitals.

@ucme A song would be good. I didn’t know there is a rainbow song, I was just taught ROY G BIV.

ucme's avatar

@zenvelo & @JLeslie I told you I learned from Sesame Street, although my song may be a little risque for little kids.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think I know them all.

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