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Indefinite articles and abbreviations

Understanding the correct usage of indefinite articles and abbreviations can be a challenge for both native and non-native English speakers. Should it be a MRI scan or an MRI scan; a UNESCO heritage site or an UNESCO heritage site? This post first describes the difference between acronyms and initialisms, before explaining the reason why we use an MRI scan, for example, despite the abbreviation beginning with a consonant.

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Using abbreviations

Non-native academic writers at all levels, from undergraduates to researchers, often find the manner of placing and presenting in-text abbreviations of regularly used terms such as European Union (EU), radio frequency Identification (RFID), printed circuit board (PCB), etc., somewhat challenging. Consequently, several questions arise:

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