Grammar rule or way of saying

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Alberto, Sep 15, 2009.

  1. Alberto

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Nov 7, 2008
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    DELETED! End of my partecipation to AAC forum.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
  2. jpanhalt

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    Jan 18, 2008
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    The general rule is that use of "a" or "an" is driven by the way the following word is pronounced. Thus, "an L" is correct, because "L" is pronounced as if it were spelled "el."

    Thus, if you read LED as L.E.D. (i.e., you say the separate letters), the the correct article is "an." If for some reason you pronounce it as a single word (such as the verb, led), then the article would be "a."

    John

    Edit: How to handle the plurals of acronyms, trademarks (usually none), and units is outside the scope of your question, I believe.
     
  3. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
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    The article goes with the way one pronounces LED. If it is with the letters individually pronounced - L * E * D - then "an" is acceptable. Otherwise, it's a LED (pronounced as "lead").

    The fun part is that the pronunciation of "LED" is not set - it's up to the speaker. You can only tell how he does it by the article preceding the acronym.
     
  4. Ratch

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    Mar 20, 2007
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    Alberto,

    The best rule I can think of is don't let the consonant "n" in "an" flow into another consonant, and don't let the "a" in "a" flow into a another vowel. So "an LED" is a no-no. By the way, speaking of grammar, "english grammar" is "English grammar" because "English" is a nationality, and is always capitalized in the King's English.

    Ratch
     
  5. jpanhalt

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    Sorry, and with all due respect, it's the pronunciation not the spelling that governs, particularly for acronyms. Follow my example of "an L."

    John

    Edit: Here are two other examples: "an hour" and "a horse."
     
  6. someonesdad

    Senior Member

    Jul 7, 2009
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    As someone else mentioned, it's how it sounds when speaking that determines whether 'a' or 'an' are used. Ratch's rule is close, but fails with e.g. 'URL', as the 'U' is pronounced more like a hard consonant than a soft vowel. No doubt some linguist or pedantic English teacher could construct an exact rule, but I suppose a practical rule could be made from where your tongue is with respect to your teeth or whether your lips are closed when saying the letter.

    I can see how it can be hard for a non-native speaker to determine the proper usage.
     
  7. ELECTRONERD

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    May 26, 2009
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    I'm not so sure "an" is correct, but rather "a". You see, if we unravelled the acronym LED and had "Light Emitting Diode," "An Light Emitting Diode" doesn't agree gramatically. However, "A Light Emitting Diode" does make sense. Therefore, I think "A LED" would be correct and also "One LED" would be alright as well.
     
  8. jpanhalt

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    When unsure, there are lots of resources available.

    http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/540/01/

    John
     
  9. ELECTRONERD

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    Well then, according to your resource I am correct. ;) "L" is certainly not a vowel and therefore it's a consonant. It sounds correct anyway.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2009
  10. Ratch

    New Member

    Mar 20, 2007
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    jpanhalt,

    Agreed. I never said anything about spelling. I said consonant. The dictionary defines consonant as a. (in English articulation) a speech sound produced by occluding with or without releasing (p, b; t, d; k, g), diverting (m, n, ng), or obstructing (f, v; s, z, etc.) the flow of air from the lungs (opposed to vowel).

    The "L" sound you are talking about is pronounced as "EL", so "an L" sounds good because of its vowel sound. "A LED" sounds good because of its consonant sound. So again I say, don't let the consonant "n" in "an" flow into another consonant, and don't let the "a" in "a" flow into another vowel.

    Ratch
     
  11. jpanhalt

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    So, how do you pronounce "LED?" And, how about "IRED?"

    The vast majority of people pronounce LED (when meaning a light emitting diode) by saying the individual letters. The first letter of which is not a consonant sound.

    Even if you might pronounce LED as the verb "led," you must admit that many people pronounce LED as the individual letters, which is clear in the preceding posts. Therefore, to say, "an LED is a no-no" is simply wrong.

    John
     
  12. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
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    When You guys get bored,you should go out to your car
    and check your awl and water. Grammar has a south sound,
    Southern Ohio beat the a's. Loosewire's English.
    Where as,where by.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2009
  13. Ratch

    New Member

    Mar 20, 2007
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    jpanhalt,

    1A) an el,ee,dee

    1B) a LED as in led (past tense of lead)

    2) always use "an" whether you pronounce IRED as a word or spell it out

    Ratch
     
  14. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
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    I think different expression's of langage has to do with the
    subject and meaning of words, a book of facts should be clear
    concise to explain a point clearly. A novel or general reading
    can be more relaxing written as spoken by the subject,to get
    more of a feal of that person being written about,the person
    place,subject.Like my writing you have to figure out what I am
    saying.Some times my mind is moving faster than my typing.
     
  15. ELECTRONERD

    Senior Member

    May 26, 2009
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    Yeah, A Light Emitting Diode is the correct way just by itself, and An Infrared Light Emitting Diode would be correct if you add the infrared to it.
     
  16. Ratch

    New Member

    Mar 20, 2007
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    Alberto,

    As was pointed out before, the rule applies to how it sounds, not how it is spelled. So when you say LED, you are using the "leh" sound, which is a consonant.

    Nope. A word designated to be capitalized does not lose that status if it is used as an adjective. Two examples are "Boolean algebra" and "Boole's inequality", both named after George Boole.

    Ratch
     
  17. studiot

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 9, 2007
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    Since neither the UK, nor any of you guys have a king to have any english the term is moot.

    Alberto et al if you have to have a rule then try this

    a led

    a light emitting diode

    an ell ee dee

    note the spelling if the word following an - it starts with a vowel. This is the spelling of the name of the letter l.

    All totally self consistent.

    However the beaty of the Bard's English is that there are no hard and fast rules, sometimes we make exceptions in the name of expediency as in john'd

    an hour
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2009
  18. FastEddie

    Active Member

    Jul 14, 2007
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    I'm just curious. If you were talking about a(an) USB cable instead of LEDs which would it be:
    a USB cable
    or
    an USB cable
    ?
    I guess if it were plural it would have to be 'the USB cables', so no problem there.
     
  19. jpanhalt

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    Regarding the indefinite article, you should review the numerous comments regarding pronunciation. How do YOU pronounce "USB?" If you pronounce the individual letters, the correct article is "a." If you try to pronounce it as a single word, as apparently some people do with LED, then the correct article depends on how you make the beginning sound. If that sound is like "ooo", as in boo, then the article is "an." If it is more like "u" as in uniform, then the article is an "a."

    In you example, you made the noun into an adjective, so the singular USB is correct.

    If you want the plural, either USBs or USB's can be used. Neither is absolutely correct or wrong, but your editor may have a different opinion. There is a preference for USBs as the plural and USB's as the possessive (as in USB's output ).

    John
     
  20. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    I say the letters, always. Makes it hard to misunderstand, be it LED or USB or PSU (think how that last would sound pronounced).
     
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