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?

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    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
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    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
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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 '14 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 '15 at 8:35

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
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    @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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    The link to the "Google fight" these days shows many more hits for "a SQL" than "an SQL." – Jacinda Jul 26 '15 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. – snailplane Apr 11 '16 at 0:07

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