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  1. #1
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Question Abbreviations beginning a sentence

    Hello. I heard that in formal writing one should not start a sentence with an abbreviation, even if this abbreviation is frequently used in the piece of writing. However, the abbreviation may be used at the beginning of a sentence when it is preceded with the definite article (even though within the text no article is used before the abbreviation). Is it right?

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    Nyggus

  2. #2
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    BobK is online now Harmless drudge
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    Re: Abbreviations beginning a sentence

    I've never met this nostrum. How do you avoid starting sentences with abbreviations like these:

    Mr Davis went to work on the same train every day.
    St Paul wrote many Epistles.
    NATO tanks moved across the boarder.


    With some, there'd be no occasion to ("etc", "e.g." "C" - to mean "Celsius").

    When I was at OUP, there was a house rule that we should avoid starting a sentence with a numeral '[The year] 1968 was notable for the summer of love'. But that was never presented to me as any more than an internal rule - it's one that a lot of people observe, but I wouldn't regard its breach as in any sense 'wrong'.

    b

  3. #3
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Question Re: Abbreviations beginning a sentence

    Thanks, BobK. I was a bit unprecise, unfortunately. I meant the abbreviations standing for noun phrases, as for instance in statistics -- ANOVA (for analysis of variance) or LSD (for least square difference) or CV (for coefficient of variation). I was said some time ago that I should not start a sentence with these abbreviations (as well as others), and that I had two possibilities: either using with the whole phrase or preceding an abbreviation with the definite article. What about this?

    Thanks,
    Nyggus

  4. #4
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    BobK is online now Harmless drudge
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    Wink Re: Abbreviations beginning a sentence

    I'd prefer your second option, but either works. As I said, it's not a 'rule' I've met, but if it keeps your teacher happy - humour him/her.

    b

  5. #5
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    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Abbreviations beginning a sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by nyggus View Post
    Thanks, BobK. I was a bit unprecise, unfortunately. I meant the abbreviations standing for noun phrases, as for instance in statistics -- ANOVA (for analysis of variance) or LSD (for least square difference) or CV (for coefficient of variation). I was said some time ago that I should not start a sentence with these abbreviations (as well as others), and that I had two possibilities: either using with the whole phrase or preceding an abbreviation with the definite article. What about this?

    Thanks,
    Nyggus
    I would have fewer problems with an acronym or an initialism at the beginning of a sentence, but an article can usually be used before them. Excpeptions would be company names such as IBM or GM. IMO, they can start sentences without difficulty.

  6. #6
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    Re: Abbreviations beginning a sentence

    I'm having difficulty imagining how to rewrite the following sentence while avoiding beginning the sentence with an abbreviation:

    "LSD is a dangerous drug."

    You can't say "The LSD", as it's a mass noun used in a general context -- LSD in general, not any specific type or instance of LSD. You can't recast the sentence easily ("A dangerous drug is LSD" sounds far too poetic for this sort of sentence). The only alternative would be to use the full, non-abbreviated form, but that's the German phrase "Lysergsäure-diethylamid". Even the English translation, "lysergic acid diethylamide", would defeat most readers.

    Other sentences:

    KGB spies were everywhere.
    BBC executives reversed their decision.
    US officials have denied all claims of impropriety.

    I think this rule is, frankly, baloney.

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