A vs AN Summary

Subject: A vs AN Summary
From: LYNDA KENNEDY <lyndak -at- NEWBRIDGE -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 10:58:30 -0500

Thanks everybody for the quick response. As requested here is the summary of the information I received.
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Some rules regarding the use of A vs. AN:

1. Use an AN before a vowel or vowel sound and use A before a consonant or consonant sound.
2. Treat acronyms as if it was the whole word / phrase / description.
Example: a National Broadcast Company employee = a NBC employee
Thanks to Carol Gasser who included the following in her response:

The Chicago Manual of Style (sec. 14.15, p. 464) says:
Uncertainty often arises concerning the proper choice of the indefinite article before an acronym. A workable solution may be based on the way such an abbreviation is read. The assumption is that an acronym is read either as a series of letters or as a neologism, or coined word. Rarely is the acronym read as though all of the words were spelled out. If, as is usually the case, the acronym is treated as a series of letters, the choice of the article depends on the pronunciation of the first letter. (_an_ NAACP position vs. _a_ TVA power station)

If the acronym is widely pronounced as though it were a word, the article is determined by the pronunciation of the word. (_a_ LOOM meeting vs. _an_ LCD panel)

Cheers,

Lynda
 

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