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Grammar Question


Chaz
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Guest cac3900

The proper article for an acronym is a tough one. It seems to turn on whether the sound of the initial letter begins with a consonant or a vowel. Therefore, it is an FBI agent because of the "eff" sound and a PTA meeting because of the "pee" sound. (you second graders can quit laughing). I think I'd spell the sound of H as "aych" so it would be an HSA.

see http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu

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I went searching for "a needle in a haystack" and found this oddly interesting thread which agrees: http://www.writersdock.org/modules.php?nam...ic&p=351893

Specifically someone more versed in linguistics than I says "strangely the letter 'H' itself has a vowel sound - Atch - thus, paradoxically, it's An H"

Kurt Vonnegut: 'To be is to do'-Socrates 'To do is to be'-Jean-Paul Sartre 'Do be do be do'-Frank Sinatra

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I went searching for "a needle in a haystack" and found this oddly interesting thread which agrees: http://www.writersdock.org/modules.php?nam...ic&p=351893

Specifically someone more versed in linguistics than I says "strangely the letter 'H' itself has a vowel sound - Atch - thus, paradoxically, it's An H"

Good research!

So, then, one offers "AN HSA" but "A health savings account"?

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Some of us are old enough to find this question a bit silly. That is because we were in school when they still taught proper English grammar, parts of speech, parts of the sentence, and (horrors!) sentence diagramming.

Of course, the answer is "an".

I'm a retirement actuary. Nothing about my comments is intended or should be construed as investment, tax, legal or accounting advice. Occasionally, but not all the time, it might be reasonable to interpret my comments as actuarial or consulting advice.

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Some of us are old enough to find this question a bit silly. That is because we were in school when they still taught proper English grammar, parts of speech, parts of the sentence, and (horrors!) sentence diagramming.

Of course, the answer is "an".

Sorry for being "silly." I do note that per Google there are at least 92,000 websites that incorrectly (as I've apparently learned) refer to "a HSA" (including, as I noted before, the Treasury Department). Perhaps the authors at those sites were equally as poorly educated as to the nuances of the proper use of the indefinite article before an acronym.

I apologize in advance for the use of passive voice.

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The other problem is "replace all". Suppose you wrote "a health savings account" a bunch of times in an article and someone comes along and tells you to abbreviate instead. You do a "Replace All" from "health savings account" to "HSA". Now your whole article has "a HSA". Can't say I've done this exact thing w/ HSA but certainly have with similar.

Kurt Vonnegut: 'To be is to do'-Socrates 'To do is to be'-Jean-Paul Sartre 'Do be do be do'-Frank Sinatra

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According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the definition of "an" is as follows: The form of "a" used before words beginning with a vowel or with an unpronounced h: an elephant; an hour.

So, according to this definition, it would be "a HSA", since you are pronouncing the "H"

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According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the definition of "an" is as follows: The form of "a" used before words beginning with a vowel or with an unpronounced h: an elephant; an hour.

So, according to this definition, it would be "a HSA", since you are pronouncing the "H"

But we are not pronouncing the 'H', are we? Arent we saying "Ech SA"?

Life and Death Planning for Retirement Benefits by Natalie B. Choate
https://www.ataxplan.com/life-and-death-planning-for-retirement-benefits/

www.DeniseAppleby.com

 

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According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the definition of "an" is as follows: The form of "a" used before words beginning with a vowel or with an unpronounced h: an elephant; an hour.

So, according to this definition, it would be "a HSA", since you are pronouncing the "H"

But we are not pronouncing the 'H', are we? Arent we saying "Ech SA"?

yes, I contradicted myself in the earlier post, sorry.

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Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage is more descriptive than prescriptive, but it advises, "You choose the article that suits your own pronunciation." Theodore Bernstein gives the straight vowel-sound vs. consonant-sound explanation but allows that one should indeed say "an hotel" if they think hotel is pronounced otel.

To avoid confusion, perhaps we should all consider using "an H.S.A." or just 'h-s-a" (see below)

I tend to use "an HSA" exclusively, using the "an" to signify that a hard letter pronounciation (H in this case) follows (e.g. An FBI agent...). That being said, I think "a hissa" would also be correct because the period are missing between the letters (but marketing would never listen). When I do not see periods between letters I tend to pronounce what follows as a word rather than reading the letters, except when "an" is used.

I.R.A. was shortened to IRA.

FWIW, there is only one instance of "a HSA" in the 3rd Edition of the HSA Anwser Book. [i'll correct that next year.]

I once globally replaced "a health savings account" which I wrote a few hundred times with "an HSA" and it worked just fine. I've also learned to stop Word from changing "HSA" to "hsa."

I play "An Harmonica".

Does that count??

Unquestionably it would; especially if for someone (not you) that thinks "Harmonica" is pronounced "AYE-monica." <grin>

"Y.M.C.A." (lyrics)

Young man, there's no need to feel down.

I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.

I said, young man, 'cause you're in a new town

There's no need to be unhappy.

Young man, there's a place you can go.

I said, young man, when you're short on your dough.

You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find

Many ways to have a good time.

It's fun to stay at the y-m-c-a.

It's fun to stay at the y-m-c-a. ...

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