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#197156 02/08/11 03:54 PM
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I've not seen this discussed here, which is not to say it's never been, but just wondering what others think.

When writing a sentence that includes an acronym, should one use the indefinite article which matches the word being abbreviated or the letter representing the word? For example:

I had to fill out a FDA form.
vs.
I had to fill out an FDA form.

This is a problem only for letters that begin with vowel sounds.

twosleepy #197166 02/08/11 04:21 PM
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I use a/an depending on the *sound, not on the letter.

thus, if you say FBI as eff-bee-eye (and who doesn't), say
an FBI agent. (of course, if you expand these sorts of acronyms you end up with 'a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent'.)

the silent h, which isn't very prevalent in Midwestern speech, presents a similar case. a historical event.. an 'istorical event.

twosleepy #197167 02/08/11 04:23 PM
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When I was in school, the AN was preferred before a
letter with a vowel sound, such as F or L or even H.


----please, draw me a sheep----
twosleepy #197178 02/09/11 12:35 AM
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The problem arises when you're not sure if it's read as letters or as a true acronym. An example is HID (human interface device, e.g., keyboard, mouse, or track ball). Is it read as 'hid' or aitch eye dee? When I run into one of these when copy-editing an engineering report I'll try to find and example where it doesn't have the indefinite article and ask an engineer to read it to me.

Faldage #197179 02/09/11 12:42 AM
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Originally Posted By: Faldage
When I run into one of these when copy-editing an engineering report I'll try to find and example where it doesn't have the indefinite article and ask an engineer to read it to me.

I will remember this. I am starting a new job that will involve a lot of copy editing. I am happy that I can continue to read awadtalk during work hours and still be "working". I HAVE to read it [innocent shrug]. It helps my work.

Avy #197181 02/09/11 01:49 AM
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laugh

Faldage #197203 02/09/11 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted By: Faldage
The problem arises when you're not sure if it's read as letters or as a true acronym. An example is HID (human interface device, e.g., keyboard, mouse, or track ball). Is it read as 'hid' or aitch eye dee? When I run into one of these when copy-editing an engineering report I'll try to find and example where it doesn't have the indefinite article and ask an engineer to read it to me.



Excellent point, well taken.


----please, draw me a sheep----
Faldage #197208 02/09/11 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted By: Faldage
The problem arises when you're not sure if it's read as letters or as a true acronym. An example is HID (human interface device, e.g., keyboard, mouse, or track ball). Is it read as 'hid' or aitch eye dee? When I run into one of these when copy-editing an engineering report I'll try to find and example where it doesn't have the indefinite article and ask an engineer to read it to me.

That makes a lot of sense, and may prevent you from getting laughed at in the bargain. Case in point, a few years ago I was talking to a friend who is a programmer, and in the discussion I mentioned the URL, something not common in spoken conversation. I said "yurl", not "U-R-L", and he almost died laughing and falling over himself to point out that "nobody pronounces it". Who knew? Well, at least I didn't! I guess there was no room for individualism, either...

Oh, and did the engineer say "H-I-D"? I would guess s/he spelled it out.

twosleepy #197211 02/09/11 06:30 PM
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When I first began using computer I said "yurl" as well, and
got a few raised eyebrows.


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twosleepy #197213 02/10/11 12:14 AM
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Funny. I would have pronounced it "earl".

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