An english lesson please

Ok, I see people use the letters SO all the time on here. I know it stands for Significant Other. My question is when using things like SO would say I have “an SO” or “a SO”. When I see the letters SO I read it as if it were the full words typed out which would make using A correct, but if you just read it as the letters then AN sounds better. When using abreviations do you use A/AN like you were using the full words or like you were just saying the letters in the abreviation.

(I know my grammer and spelling suck already, Get over it.)



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I believe that if you use the acronym in writing, you assume it’s pronounced as the letters and use “a” or “an” appropriately. E.g.:
An FBI agent was died. A Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesman said it was of natural causes.

Here’s a trick one. Which is correct[list=1][li]a unionized employee[/li][li]an unionized employee[/list=1][/li]
Both are. #1 refers to an employee who is a member of a union. #2 refers to an employee who has had all his ions removed. :slight_smile:

Egads! My example was supposed to read:

An FBI agent died.

But, a FEMA agent died.

English articles follow phonemic rules.

“It is lucky for rulers that men do not think.” — Adolf Hitler

So I would assume that from these examples that you use AN when actually saying the letters that make up the abreviation or acronym, but use A when saying the abreviation or acronym like it was a word all it’s own.

But in the case of expressions that aren’t quite a recognized, like SO, would I say “I have an SO.” or I have a SO."?




Either way, it sounds like you’re saying “I have an asshole.” Why not just say girl or boyfriend?


Good one Nick. Never thought about it.



Thanks for noting this site.

This is quite a difference between what we say and what we write. We slop around all kinds of words, phrases and half phrases as we speak - using an, a, ar but you just can’t get away with that in writing…

It’s the first time I’ve seen the difference between “a SO” and “an SO” explained in writing. And you were right all the time. Good Ear! (Hey, if they can say “Good Eye” in softball and baseball, why not.")

Ok, now that everyone is limbered up and full of flame, let me ask this.

Why SO instead of S.O. I think SO could be confused with “so,” as in “so what.”

Very funny, Mr. T. S., and my guess is just bother of adding in the extra… and spaces.

English articles are always phonemic, including the definite article. Though always written “the”, the definite article is pronounce “thee” in front of a vowel sound, as in “the apple” (thee apple), but “thuh” in front of a consonant sound, as in “the bank” (thuh bank).

So, if you want what you write to be pronounced “ess oh”, then write “an SO”, otherwise, write “a SO”.

“It is lucky for rulers that men do not think.” — Adolf Hitler

Note that the use of “a” or “an” can differentiate whether you’re calling it “SO” as an abbreviation, or just pronoucing “so” (as in “so what?”).

“An” is always used for the phonetic vowel sound, not the way it’s written. We say “an hour” despite the fact that “h” is a consonant. Since the letter “S” is pronounced with a initial vowel sound, acronyms beginning with “s” usually take “an.”

“East is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.” – Marx

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction.

Better you should call your honey by this acronym: POSSLQ (pronounced “POS-el-kew”). It stands for “Person of the Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters.” All you gay couples, please don’t feel offended by the apparently exclusionary nature of this acronym; after all, you have a perfectly serviceable referent in “partner.” Due to the unfortunate bigotry of the government, only heterosexual couples need to differentiate between married and unmarried couples under one roof.

Live a Lush Life
Da Chef

No, RealityChuck, you are wrong on that one. An acronym, by definition, is treated as a word.

Thus, you say “He is a SADD(Students Against Drunk Driving) member.”

Not “He is an SADD member.”

Nor would you say “I have an radar detector in my car.”

I’d like to know why people are so intent on identifying their loved ones as old petroleum companies.
(BTW, POSSLQ had a corresponding term in PSSSLQ, but it never made it into popular parlance for obvious reasons of pronunciation.)

HA! Esso…SO! NOW I get it!

Damn, I’m old.


Well, it’s shorter than Mobil-Exxon or Exxon-Mobil.

. . .which could bring up the question about how one should pronounce double exes. It should be /ksks/, right? And if it’s only /ks/, can you tell me which ex is silent?

I’m also wondering if double double-us, as in ‘powwow’, should be called quadruple us.

Ray (This is all because I have all the important problems solved, you understand.)

Really? How do you pronounce FBI? As a single word or three letters? Do you say “A FBI Agent?”

How do you pronounce “UN” for “United Nations”? Do you say “An UN peacekeeping force”?

I don’t think so.

Acronyms can be pronounced either as words or as a grouping of letters. (Some, like SFWA, are pronounced both ways.)

Since “SO” is not pronouced “so,” it is treated as though you’re pronouncing two separate letters.

“East is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.” – Marx

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction.

Ok…I was just using SO as an example. I don’t actually use the term/abbreviation SO. I don’t even have a significant other right now. With that said I think that it has been explained to where even I can understand it. (Hey, we all know more than the next guy about something. Obviously I don’t know shit about grammar and spelling.) Thanks for your help.

Now then, just to recap, If the term/acronym/abbreviation starts with a vowel sound (not necessarily a vowel) then we use AN if it starts with a consonant sound then we use A. I hope that’s right. If not I’m giving up on the English language and only use sign language.