Choosing the Right Article is Sometimes Harder Than You’d Think

Suzy Khimm asks:

Should we have a FDA for financial products?

You’ll have to click the link to get Suzy’s take on this question. My question is different: should it be “a FDA” or “an FDA”? If you mentally spell out the acronym, it’s properly “a Food and Drug Administration.” But if you mentally just sound out the letters, it’s properly “an Eff Dee Ay.”

This is even trickier with an acronym like, say, SAC. Even if you don’t mentally spell out the whole acronym, it’s still the case that sometimes this is pronounced “sack” and sometimes “Ess Ay Cee.” So you might say “a SAC bomber” or “an SAC bomber.” Which should it be?

This is one of those urgent Presidents Day questions. Speaking of which, is it Presidents Day or Presidents’ Day? Who decides these things, anyway?