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When starting a word with a vowel, the preceding "a" becomes an "an". I often find that when writing words that start with letter "N" or "M", I will pronounce them "EN", "EM", etc. (This is because in programming, letters are often pronounced in certain terms.)

So, when writing a question on SO, do I write "an NSString" or, "a NSString"?

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3  
    
I've added my close vote as well, although I think Dusty's answer below is better than those received by either of the two questions this duplicates. –  Marthaª Nov 12 '10 at 15:11
    
@Martha: Dusty's answer will survive. Closed doesn't mean "off-topic" or "will be deleted", it simply means "not accepting further answers". See this meta question. –  RegDwigнt Nov 12 '10 at 16:37
    
This falls under "borderline dupe". While the topic of the question is the same, the question itself is different. Close? Puleez. –  Moshe Nov 12 '10 at 17:40

1 Answer 1

up vote 23 down vote accepted

The choice of a vs. an is actually based on the phonetics of the start of a word, not the orthographic representation. This is why you say things like an honorable solider (the h is silent, so phonetically it begins with the vowel sound). Similarly, you would say a one-eyed pirate as one phonetically begins with the w sound.

So in the case of your example, it would be an NSString since phonetically it's en-es-string.

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