Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog

Feb 16 2009   7:53PM GMT

Articles, acronyms and initialisms — use “a” or “an”?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

typing Which is correct?
___ USB drive offers a lot of advantages over older portable storage devices.
a. a
b. an

Answer: a

Explanation: Although USB starts with a vowel, you pronounce the letters — You-Ess-Bee. Because the first sound is a Y, rather than a U, the correct article to use is the one that goes before a consonant, a. If USB were pronounced as a word — as uzzbee, for example — an would be the right article to use. (But it isn’t — too bad, because we don’t have nearly enough funny words in IT.)

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