Since SSD (solid-state drive) is pronounced es-es-dee, I'm wondering whether one should write "an SSD" or "a SSD".
Saying "a SSD" out loud feels a bit off...
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marked as duplicate by RegDwighт♦, F'x, Mr. Shiny and New 安宇, Marthaª, kiamlaluno Feb 28 '11 at 15:52
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Definitely an SSD.
The use of a vs. an is always determined by pronunciation, not by spelling. You don’t even need to find acronyms to give examples where they disagree: one would always say/write a European, not *an European, and an honest man, not *a honest man.
The only case where there’s doubt is when pronunciation varies. For instance, with the acronym SCSI, computer professionals usually say “scuzzy”, but non-techies meeting it for the first time usually say “ess see ess eye”. So one might reasonably encounter either a SCSI cable or an SCSI cable, depending on the writer.
However, as you say, SSD is (as far as I know!) always pronounced letter-by-letter; so it’s definitely an SSD.
The rule is that if the word (in its pronunciation) starts with a vowel, you use "an". In other words, if the phonetic transcription of an English word begins with a vowel, you use "an". Examples: an orange (/o/), an apple (/æ/).
If it starts with a consonant, you use "a". Remember that /w/ and /j/ are considered consonants, which explains "a union" (/juːnjən/) and "a one-legged man" (/wən legd mæn/).
The rule is actually about using an 'a' before a consonant sound and 'an' before a vowel sound. Now the rule is generalised to the one that you've stated, i.e. using 'a' before a word that starts with a consonant and 'an' before a word that starts with a vowel. The generalisation is true in most of the cases and this is precisely the reason why the rule is stated in its diluted form. But if we follow the rule we find that the exceptions vanish. SOA, as John has mentioned starts with an 'ES' sound which is a vowel sound. Hence the 'an'.
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