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Do you use “a” or “an” before acronyms?

I got the following sentence from the book I'm reading:

You can take a database-first approach by first creating a SQL Server database schema.

From what I learned, I think it should be "an SQL Server database schema", not "a SQL Server database schema". So which one is correct?

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marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt, Mehper C. Palavuzlar, Joshua Karstendick, Kosmonaut Nov 19 '10 at 13:56

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Duplicate of “an SQA or a SQA?”, which is itself a duplicate of “Do you use 'a' or 'an' before acronyms?” –  RegDwigнt Nov 19 '10 at 9:29
Oh I'm sorry. I should have searched before asking. –  Hai Minh Nguyen Nov 19 '10 at 10:06
I wouldn't qualify this as a duplicate, because in this case there are two different pronunciations of the acronym. Though it is definitely very closely related, and linking to the other answers is still helpful. –  Tom Pietrosanti Mar 19 '14 at 13:15
Microsoft Style Guide says: Use "an SQL" (an es-cue-el) if you mean SQL the language and "a SQL" (a sequel) if you mean the product Microsoft SQL Server. For example, "an SQL database" but "a SQL Server installation". –  Helen Aug 11 '14 at 10:44

1 Answer 1

up vote 11 down vote accepted

This depends, I would think, on your pronunciation of SQL. It can be pronounced as "sequel", or spelled out as "S-Q-L". That perhaps doesn't help in written English.

A thoroughly scientific survey of Google throws up many more hits for "an SQL" than "a SQL". This is also the form used on that Wikipedia article and elsewhere, such as this Microsoft SQL Server documentation entitled "Executing an SQL Query".

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I never knew SQL can be pronounced as "sequel". –  Hai Minh Nguyen Nov 19 '10 at 10:05
@Hai Minh Nguyen: I think there was a very early SQL product actually named "SEQUEL" and some people just use that for pronouncing SQL. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Aug 10 '11 at 16:18
You can also pronounce it "SQUEAL," if you're a nincompoop like me. –  Dolph Dec 16 '14 at 22:44

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