Using a or an article before unfamiliar or new termed acronym

I have seen in a number of places, such as this answer, that the usage of a or an in front of an acronym is dependent on the common pronunciation of that acronym.

I am confused for the following reasons:

  • It is very possible that a certain acronym will be differently pronounced in two cases (based on geography for example) due to cultural or context differences.

  • If I am terming a new acronym, do I get to choose how to pronounciate it as well? For example, say I am writing an academic article and have defined a new term for which I choose a new acronym, how do I determine the correct article?

A good example of the latter case could be derived from the world of computers. Say I am an innovator who just invented the Serial AT attachment SATA computer bus, and I am terming the acronym SATA. I may pronounce my new term either as saa-taa or ess-ay-tee-ay. For the first case, I will have to write a SATA bus while for the second, it seems I will have to chose an SATA bus.

Is there a rule of thumb here to make things clearer?


This seems to be a question about prescriptive grammar versus descriptive grammar. As the creator you can decide how you want your word (or acronym, or initialism) to be pronounced, but don’t be surprised if the public end up pronouncing it however they feel it should be pronounced. Look at the case of gif – the creator expected it to be pronounced with a soft g, but many people pronounce it with a hard g anyway. And whether a or an is used will of course depend on the pronunciation.

Source : Link , Question Author : havakok , Answer Author : Showsni

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