I saw several posts about usage of "the" before acronyms, but I still haven't found any answer on my question. Let's say I developed a System for Definitions' Retrieval (SDR). So, should I refer to it as "the SDR" or just "SDR"?

The sentence is:

Integration of (the/a/?) SDR database with lexical (synonyms, antonyms, etc.) databases.

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    I'd say an SDR. – Barrie England Nov 21 '12 at 10:02
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    Depends on context, again. It could be an SDR ("Let's say I developed an SDR") or the SDR ("Use the SDR I developed"). Please provide the actual sentence you are asking about. – Andrew Leach Nov 21 '12 at 10:10
  • If you develop the system, you get to call it whatever you are comfortable with. Just like you can call your company "The Microsoft" or "The Apple" if you so choose, and not just "Microsoft" or "Apple". On a broader note, since the name in question does not exist yet, it is impossible to tell what is proper and what is not, because what's proper and what's not is determined through usage, and the name hasn't been used yet. – RegDwigнt Nov 21 '12 at 10:15
  • @AndrewLeach That (comment) can be a generic solution to the problem at hand. Why not post it as an answer? – Kris Nov 22 '12 at 9:43

In this contex, "SDR" appears in adjective context for "database", so the choice between the/a is strictly in classic context of "the database" or "a database" (depending on a broader context), and the acronym doesn't change a thing (except choice between a/an if that's what you pick; in this case the first letter of acronym is a vowel in pronunciation so an es-... ).

The situation would be different, if you abbreviated System for Definitions' Retrieval Database to SDRD - in that case you'd get to choose freely between Integration of SDRD and Integration of the/an SDRD (choice between the and an according to classic rules, if you integrate one random SDRD out of many, then an, if you pick a specific one, the)

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We call the British Broadcasting Corporation 'the BBC' but the National Broadcasting Company 'NBC'. If you invent a new way of piping, I suggest you can call the tune.

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  • See here: dailywritingtips.com/initialisms-and-acronyms – Louis Liu Aug 28 '15 at 8:37
  • Yes; the article is wrong. 'But initialisms require the' is far from being a rule. I state above that 'NBC' is used instead of 'the NBC', and you'll never hear a bald 'the ITV' in the UK. Also, 'laser' (an archetypal acronym) can be used as a count noun and be preceded by a or the. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 28 '15 at 15:53
  • So, as a learner of English grammar I would ask, what is the rule? – Louis Liu Aug 29 '15 at 7:42
  • There is sadly only one rule in English. Find out what accepted individual usages are. Here, the 'rule' given at your link will work pretty often, but what's the use of a 'rule' that lets you down unexpectedly? // In OP's example, as SF. says, the question doesn't arise. The initialism is a red herring; the question might as well be '[Should I use] "Integration of (the/a/?) new database ..."?' – Edwin Ashworth Aug 29 '15 at 10:57

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