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Writing Tip: Articles and Acronyms



I received this question recently:

Should you use “a” or “an” before an acronym (or initilialism) that starts with a consonant? For example, would you write “We received an FDA inquiry” or “We received a FDA inquiry?”

Well, a lot of folks might think, FDA starts with a consonant, so surely the article would be "a" -- like if you were referring to "a DNA test." But that's not always the case!

The trick is to use your ears. Focus on how the acronym is pronounced, not how it’s spelled. You would write "An FDA inquiry" or "An LAPD officer."


All of those sound like they start with a vowel, so "an" is the article you'd choose. An is for vowels, real or implied. 😉

Have a great weekend everyone!


If you have a burning grammar, spelling, or style question, let’s hear it! I will answer it in my next Writing Tip post.

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