Re: Definite articles in front of acronyms

Subject: Re: Definite articles in front of acronyms
From: John Kohl <sasjqk -at- UNX -dot- SAS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 18 Oct 1996 16:53:00 GMT

In article <32698d1b -dot- 4899518 -at- ingate -dot- djttd -dot- com>, Keith Soltys
<ksoltys -at- djttd -dot- com> writes:
|> I would like to know how people handle definite articles in front of
|> acroynms.
|> =46or example, our company has a system called the Merged Quotation
|> Distribution System, which is abbreviated MQDS. People almost always use =
|> the
|> acronym.
|> In our documentation, sometimes the definite article (the) is placed =
|> before
|> the acronym, sometime's it's not. I've being trying to make the usage
|> consistent, usually by adding the article.
|> I'm wondering if anyone has a general rule for this? I can't find =
|> anything
|> in any of the style guides that I've looked at, including the Chicago =
|> Manual.
|> Regards
|> Keith

"The" is seldom used with proper nouns (names). (exceptions: The United
States of America, The Ukraine, etc.) If something has a proper name,
then it is already "definite" and does not require the definite article

In your documentation, when people refer to "MQDS" (without "the"), they
are thinking of it as a product name (i.e., as a proper noun). When
they refer to it as "the MQDS," they are thinking of it as a particular
type of system, not as a unique product (as if there could be more than
one merged quotation distribution system). If you think that different
contexts require thinking of it in those two different ways, then don't
attempt to standardize the usage. But if you want it to always be
thought of as a product, then don't use "the."

That's MY opinion anyway. (I have an M.A. in Teaching English as a
Second Language, so I am pretty familiar with how articles are used
in English!)


John Kohl

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