A vs. An Before an Acronym: The Pesky Rule Meant to Confuse

OK, Copy Bitch, I’ve got one for you: Is it proper to use “a” or “an” before the acronym LGBTQ? I am a firm believer that “an” should only be used before vowels, so “a” should be used prior to LGBTQ.  But everywhere I look, people are writing “an LGBTQ.” What say you?

–Rob F, NYC

It’s the vowel or consonant sound that’s critical, not necessarily what the actual letter is itself. So, because you’d say “el” for the letter “L” (which is a vowel sound), “an” is appropriate.

Grammar Girl explains it quite well in this post.

I’ve been encountering this issue lately with the word “urogynecologist” and “urologist.” (I do copywriting work for a urology practice.) Those words don’t use a vowel sound as in “undercoat.” So I’d say, “I bought an undercoat today. But now I need to find a urologist.”

Hey, we’ll work on having sentences make SENSE in another issue, OK?

Hope this helps!

2 replies
  1. RobynB
    RobynB says:

    Exactly, Michael. That’s because the “l” sound in “look” is the hard “l” sound, not the “el” in the example: LGBT. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *