Simple question:

How do you pronounce acronyms when they're used with apostrophe to express possession? For example:

In the NIH's high-risk, high-reward programmes, “if an idea isn't developing the way it was expected to, awardees have the flexibility to pursue a more promising avenue of research”.

2 Answers 2


I think typically you would follow the rules of pronunciation given the last letter of the acronym. So as mgb says, in your example it would be "En Aye Aitch ez". Some other examples:

The US's: "The You Ess ez"

The USA's: "The You Ess Ayz"

The UK's: "The You Kayz"

The CBC's: "The Cee Bee Ceez"

If the acronym is one that you read like a word, such as NASA, then you would follow the rules for words.

NASA's: "Nassaz"

And so forth.

  • 1
    Excellent answer. Some pronunciations are very weird, don't you think? Particularly, US's, NIH's. On the contrary, UK's and CBC's sound good.
    – r_31415
    Jul 19, 2012 at 4:04
  • 2
    Agreed - it's that UK and CBC end in vowels (when you pronounce them). US's and NIH's require a whole extra syllable!
    – JAM
    Jul 19, 2012 at 4:06
  • 1
    I wouldn't say it's any worse than the possesive case of names ending in 's', for example: Dickens's. Jul 19, 2012 at 5:06
  • 1
    How about the classics? It's Augustus's reign /ə'ɡəstəsəz ren/, but Aristophanes' play /ɛrəs'tafəniz ple/. Jul 19, 2012 at 14:23
  • @JohnLawler - that's just about worth another question, don't you think? Why Augustus's but Aristophanes'? Or is it simply a matter of personal taste?
    – JAM
    Jul 19, 2012 at 18:05

i would pronounce it "N I H -es" ie "en hi aitch ez"


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