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Possible Duplicate:
“a/an” preceding a parenthetical statement

I'm asking a question on Stack Overflow now, and I'm unsure about this:

I have an (Ruby on Rails site's) API which returns JSON data.

  • 'API' starts with an 'A' so I should use 'an': an API …
  • 'Ruby' (within parentheses) starts with an 'R' so I should use 'a': a (Ruby …

Must I use 'a' or 'an' in this case?

In other words, is the 'a' or 'an' only dependent on the following word not within parentheses?

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marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt, JSBձոգչ, Robusto, Marthaª, Kosmonaut Jan 21 '11 at 19:55

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1 Answer 1

The best thing to do in this case is to reword things to move the parenthetical remark; it's not good to insert it at that particular point, because you're creating a dissonance between the stated indefinite pronoun "a", and the implied definite pronoun "the" that should apply because you're actually talking about a single specific API.

If you're using one of several possible APIs from the site:

I have an API (from the Ruby on Rails site) which returns JSON data.

or if there's only one API from the site:

I'm using the Ruby on Rails site's API, which returns JSON data.

Edit: Or if, as pointed out in the comments, it's from one of several possible RoR sites:

I'm using a Ruby on Rails site's API, which returns JSON data.

or even better,

I'm using this Ruby on Rails site's API, which returns JSON data

(and make "this Ruby on Rails site" a hyperlink)

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Actually, it's a Ruby on Rails site's API. Not the Ruby on Rails site's API. –  rightføld Jan 21 '11 at 19:39

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