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Since FYI stands for "for your information", I would tend to use it like this:

FYI, I think the fish has gone bad.

In other words, the acronym simply replaces the phrase. However, I've heard FYI used many times in the following way:

As an FYI, you shouldn't mention his ex-wife.

Here, it is being used as a thing. This doesn't quite sound right if you fill in what the acronym stands for. It's as if a for-your-information is taken to be an object in a similar fashion to a(n) FAQ.

Anyone have some insight as to whether the second usage above is considered valid?

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It doesn't matter what the origin of the word is: if people use it as a word, indeed as a noun, then it is a noun. Its acronymic origin may be interesting, but tells you zero about how the word is used. –  Colin Fine Apr 19 '11 at 16:27
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@Colin Fine: Agreed in general, but we must admit that people do also use words (and stillborn neologisms) incorrectly sometimes. Leaving plenty of scope for debate over whether any particular usage is correct / wrong / non-standard / informal / archaic / whatever. –  FumbleFingers Apr 19 '11 at 22:08

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Using FYI as a noun is perfectly normal and common in business. "As an FYI, check out today's report on sales," is the sort of thing you hear all the time. "He sent me an FYI on that" is unobjectionable.

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+1; A similar word is "IOU": "That cheapskate left me an IOU." –  MrHen Apr 19 '11 at 15:29
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Nice corollary. IOU, FAQ, IM, many work this way. It's often objectionable to verbify nouns, but nounifying verbs is normally innocuous. –  The Raven Apr 19 '11 at 15:40

In school, you learned to put a definite article, “the,” or an indefinite article, “a” or “an” before a noun. You were also told to put “an” in front of a noun beginning with a vowel and “a” in front of a noun starting with a consonant: a meeting, an emergency.

But remember the exceptions I often talk about with regard to the English language. When it comes to abbreviations and initialisms, you have to ask what is the first sound – not the first letter. “An” is used when the first sound is a vowel, “a” when the first sound is a consonant.

Examples An LCBO bottle (vowel start — ell) A LAN connection (consonant start) An MBA degree (vowel start — em) An FYI notice (vowel start — ehf)

Therefore, both “a Law Society of Upper Canada form” and its abbreviated form “an LSUC form” are correct.

Don’t you just love English! taken from - http://ontariotraining.net/grammar-tip-a-or-an-with-acronyms/

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This is an answer to a different question. –  Scott Aug 25 at 17:10

Personally, I find it awkward to use FYI as a noun. I read FYI as "for your information" in my mind, as oppose to "F" "Y" "I".

So when I see "As an FYI" I read it as "As an for your information" , which is wrong.

I guess it would sound okay to people who actually say "F" "Y" "I".

This is also seen in other short forms, like ASAP, LOL etc. Some pronounce it by the alphabets, some pronounce it as a whole word.

I would tend to think that short form like these in itself indicate a loose grammar. You would not see FYI, don't, ASAP, IMHO in an academic paper. In places where you are likely to see these short forms, I think it is acceptable to use it as a noun, since the grammar is not as strict.

Lastly, it also puzzles me why people write "As an FYI, we will be out of business soon" while they could have simply said "FYI, we will be out of business soon". Not only providing the same meaning, but also saves a few keystrokes on the keyboard, and is grammatically correct.

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