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I am currently writing a (mathematical) paper, which considers so called paths in graphs. The start of a path is usually denoted by the letter s and the end of the path is denoted by t. The whole path is then called "s-t-path" and my question is about which indefinite article to use with it.

The selected answer in Indefinite article before symbols says to just use 'a' or 'an' according to how you pronounce what follows. This would imply that one should write "a s-t-path", because the s goes with a (a superhero, etc.). When I am actually using the construct in a spoken sentence, however, what I would be saying is "an s-t-path".

There are 39,700 google search results for "an s-t-path" versus 41,900 results for "a s-t-path", which is to show that this topic truly divides the nation ;-)

marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt Apr 4 '14 at 13:58

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to just use 'a' or 'an' according to how you pronounce what follows.


This would imply that one should write "a s-t-path"

No, it wouldn't. As you mention yourself, you pronounce the S of s-t-path starting with a vowel sound.

So how you figure that it would imply you would write "a s-t-path" is beyond me. I would certainly advise to write "an s-t-path", the same conclusion you would have gotten to if you would not have read over the word pronounced in the advice you took from the other question. :)

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    Thanks for the quick answer! Your passive aggressive style of writing makes it a pleasure to read :) – sfeuz Apr 4 '14 at 12:47
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    Not sure if that's a compliment, but I'll take it as one :) Sorry if I seemed a bit harsh :) – oerkelens Apr 4 '14 at 13:04

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