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Grammar Repair Shop: A simple solution to an ‘article’ query

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Problem: Patricia Cain, Philadelphia, asked whether to use "a" or "an" before the initialism SCSR, for senior customer service representative.

Lesson: The key is whether the sound that follows the article is a consonant or a vowel sound.
If you read SCSR aloud, the first sound you pronounce is a vowel sound, "ess." Therefore, use "an," just as you would before "NBA" and "M.S. degree."

In contrast, "a" is correct before "SWAT team" because the first sound in the acronym is a consonant sound, "s."
Peeved by a common error? Puzzled by perplexing grammar rules? Send us an e-mail at with the subject "Grammar." Or call us at (703) 905-4850.

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