article question

Suppose I have a phrase, like “measure-preserving transformation” which I abbreviate by “MPT.” Would I then say “T is a MPT” or “T is an MPT?” My gut instinct is that I would write the former and speak the latter, but that’s inconsistent. It’s probably the latter, since it’s “em pee tee,” right?

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0 thoughts on “article question

  1. Try this:

    “‘an’ is used if the singular countable noun begins with a vowel sound. If there are adjectives between the indefinite article and the noun, use the sound of the adjective nearest the article to determine whether ‘a’ or ‘an’ should be used. Most words that begin with a vowel sound also begin with a vowel letter. However, there are some exceptions, and those exceptions mostly occur with words that begin with ‘h’ or ‘u.'”

    Hey, I’m an ME. Beware all grammar advice herein.

  2. I think the problem is that when I write MPT it’s a gloss for “measure-preserving transformation.” Thus I would write “a MPT” because when I read it in my head I expand out the acronym. If I was reading it out loud it would be a whole different ballgame.

  3. The Associated Press Stylebook (the newspaper journalist’s Bible), says that you should use “an.” But the AP Stylebook also says a lot of things that non-journalists would not consider proper. When I write, I think I usually use “a” in similar situations.

    BTW, I forgot to mention this in my other comment, but having interviewed electrical engineers and written about their work, I can definitely say that EE is cool. Anyone who doesn’t think so does not know enough about it.

  4. Despite the Oxbridge education and the Lit degree, I can’t remember the rules of grammar to save my life, but I think I’d go with the “an” if you’re vocalising and the “a” when you’re writing.

    In other words, what you posted. Only I’m trying to get some credit for it too 😉

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