Possible Duplicate:
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?

  • 1
    Duplicate of “an SQA or a SQA?”, which is itself a duplicate of “Do you use 'a' or 'an' before acronyms?”
    – RegDwigнt
    Nov 19, 2010 at 9:29
  • Oh I'm sorry. I should have searched before asking. Nov 19, 2010 at 10:06
  • 4
    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. Mar 19, 2014 at 13:15
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    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, 2014 at 10:44
  • The duplicate doesn't seem very duplicate-y to me, honestly. This is really about the fact that you can pronounce SQL as S-Q-L or as Sequel. From there, you can use the "duplicate", but on its own, it's really not enough to answer the question.
    – Jasper
    Jul 20, 2015 at 8:35

1 Answer 1


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".

  • I never knew SQL can be pronounced as "sequel". Nov 19, 2010 at 10:05
  • 1
    @Hai Minh Nguyen: I think there was a very early SQL product actually named "SEQUEL" and some people just use that for pronouncing SQL. Aug 10, 2011 at 16:18
  • You can also pronounce it "SQUEAL," if you're a nincompoop like me.
    – Dolph
    Dec 16, 2014 at 22:44
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    The link to the "Google fight" these days shows many more hits for "a SQL" than "an SQL."
    – Jacinda
    Jul 26, 2015 at 3:15
  • Either way, Google Search doesn't work very well as a corpus. Google has never tried to make its result estimates particularly accurate.
    – user28567
    Apr 11, 2016 at 0:07

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