Posted by R. Berg on August 12, 2004
In Reply to: Use of articles in front of acronyms posted by Henry on August 12, 2004
: : : : This crops up quite frequently in the course of drafting reports, when acronyms are commonly used. When referring to (say) a Site of Special Scientific Interest, universally shortened in the local government world to 'SSSI', is it correct to refer to 'a SSSI', which if being spoken, would seem awkward and quite possibly incorrect; or 'an SSSI', which sounds much better, but if the full phrase is used instead of the acronym, is obviously wrong - i.e. 'an Site of.....'.
: : : : Thanks in anticipation!
: : : 'An SSSI' but 'A Site of Special Scientific Interest'.
: : : Scientific doesn't seem the right word for those sites. In my experience they are usually fields. Okay, Botany is a science, it's just that the name seems to bring up images of test tubes and white coats.
: : Sometimes acronyms are pronounced like words, and some unseen vowels may be added. So, perhaps "SSSI" could be pronounced "Sissy" by the cognoscenti, so they use the article "a". Just a thought.
: SSSI is generally spoken as 'triple S I'.
The general rule is, let the pronunciation be your guide. Read the sentence aloud and use whichever sounds better, "a" or "an."