Cray-cray but totes legit: totes is like totes grammats. For reals.

You’ve probs heard totes being used by like, people, maybe you, which is like totes norms, but what you probs haven’t realised is that forming totes words uses your knowledge of English grammar. In fact, every time you create a totes word, several rules of grammar come into play. Though I happen to think this is totes amaze, mabes you’re like whatevs, grammar is like sooooo boring.

Well luckily, even though totes is grammatical there’s no grammar to learn here: you very likely already know these rules subconsciously even if you don’t use totes yourself, but like, mabes you haven’t consciously thought about the phonology of totes before lolz. And as you can see, it’s not just totes: probs, fairs, deece, ceebs, and for reals are just some of the members of this class of words which end in an S or a Z sound. The earliest word of this kind recorded in the OED is obvs, appearing in the 80s, and now these words are appearing all the time, impervious to widespread but useless opprobrium. Amaze.

probably → probs
fair → fairs
definitely → deffs
joking → jokes
for real → for reals
maybe → mabes
mebbe → mebs
whatever → whatevs
lol → lolz
sorry → soz
totally → totes
CBA (seebeeay) → ceebs
same → sames
possibly → poss
decent → deece
amazing → amaze
delicious → delish
awkward → awks
later → laters

How to totes (for the lolz)

  1. Take all the syllables in the word up to the syllable carrying the main stress, in bold.
  2. Make the coda (final consonants) of the stressed syllable as large as possible using the onset (initial consonants) of the following syllable, in italics.
  3. Add Z to the coda unless this makes an illegal (impossible) coda. If the coda ends with a voiceless sound (pronounced without the vocal folds vibrating) then the Z also becomes voiceless, changing to S.
  4. An adjective immediately after totes may well also undergo this process too lol.
  • In British English, Rs aren’t pronounced in codas, so we get soz, not sorz. On the other hand, why we get laters and not lates remains unclear (awks).