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Apr 12 2010   1:41PM GMT

Is that a FAQ list or an FAQ list?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
The MultiSpeak website provides ______ list explaining more about the initiative.
a. a FAQ
b. an FAQ


Answer: Either.

Explanation:
It all depends on whether you pronounce FAQ as a word (fack) or the individual letters, (eff-aye-kew).

If you pronounce FAQ as a word, the word starts with the consonant f so it’s prefaced by a — as if it were a fack list. On the other hand, if you pronounce it eff-aye-kew, that pronunciation starts with a vowel, so it needs an.

I pronounce FAQ as a word. But then I also pronounce ASAP as aye-sap, probably for the same two reasons: 1. It’s faster to say, and 2. It annoys some purists no end. (I’m a little perverse that way.)

Here’s an explanation from the official FAQ FAQ list (that’s not a typo — it’s a FAQ about FAQs):

FAQ is pronounced three ways:
1. By pronouncing the letters individually: F – A – Q
2. As a word: fack
3. Obscenely:

The first two pronunciations are the most common, and are used about
equally. Some will say F – A – Q if they are speaking with someone
that really doesn’t know the Internet. Those who are lazy (me for
example) will use “fack”, since it is easier to say. Often when
initiating a conversation it is useful to say F – A – Q, and then
once the subject has been established, “fack” should be sufficient.

You will notice that in this document I use the phrase “a FAQ” rather
than “an FAQ”. This is because most of the time I say “a fack”
instead of “an F-A-Q”.

Feel free to use whichever pronunciation you prefer and don’t let
anyone bully you. Both ways are acceptable. If you use the third
way… well, you’re on your own.

Read more: FAQs about FAQs

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