eli5 Why, in English Grammer, is it always an “an” before an acronym? Even if the acronym doesn’t start with a vowel?


eli5 Why, in English Grammer, is it always an “an” before an acronym? Even if the acronym doesn’t start with a vowel?

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I don’t think that’s the correct rule, you should use the appropriate A or An according to traditional English rules, can you give an example otherwise?

Not always – you don’t eat an BLT sandwich, you eat a BLT sandwich.

It’s because most english letters, when pronounced, start with vowel sounds. For example, N is pronounced EN, and we use an whenever the sound of the next word is a vowel sound.

It isn’t, and I don’t know why you think it is.

A lot of acronyms start with vowel sounds, so you’d say something like “an MVP” because that sounds like “an emm vee pee” out loud.

But for an acronym that starts with a consonant sound, like VIP, it’s “A VIP,” not “An VIP”

It’s not. The word “an” is used before a word that starts with a vowel sound. How the following word is spelled is irrelevant, only how it’s pronounced.

For example, you would say “an MBA” because MBA is pronounced like “em bee ae”. But you would say “a TLA” because TLA is pronounced like “tee ell ae”.

It’s not always, but often. And it has to do with the sound of the acronym, or initialism, rather than the letter it begins with.

So we might say “a CPU,” because phonetically, CPU starts with an “s” sound (see-pee-you). “An CPU” would sound wrong to our ears.

But we would say “an FBI agent”, because FBI phonetically starts with a short “e” sound (eff-bee-I.” We change the article based on sound, not on spelling.

It’s not an issue that comes up with most words, because if they start with a consonant, they typically have a consonant sound. But a lot of letters, when spoken, begin with a vowel sound, so we accommodate that.

It’s not.

However the use of “an” precedes vowel *sounds*, not vowels. So you might say “He shot my finger off with a LASER” but also “My toy truck has an LED on top”.

It isn’t. Just like everywhere else in the English language it’s not the following letter that matters but the following sound. MIT is pronounced “am i tee” so it’s “an MIT”. VAT is pronounced “vee ay tee” so it’s “a VAT”

English uses “an” when the next word begins with a vowel *sound*. Many consonants actually start with a vowel sound when said separately. For example, “F” is said “ef”. Thus “FAQ” sounds like “ef-ay-que,” and you would place “an” in front. However, if you didn’t pronounce it as individual letters, just “faq,” then you would use put “a” in front.

There are some things that are technically acronyms that are now just said as words where this would matter. It’s “a scuba suit” but “an S.C.U.B.A. suit”. There are also letters that don’t start with a vowel sound even when said alone, like “B,” so you would still go to “a B.B.Q.”