a LED v. an LED

Which is correct? Google and you'll find they are nearly equally used.
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Hi Infinik

You use "an" before a vowel sound. So, if the pronunciation of LED is "el - ee - dee", then you should use "an".

- an LED display
You are absolutely right.

But I'm just wondering if people in the field of LED would pronounce it as "led". If that's the case, it may justify high percentage of "a LED" used.
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I've never heard anyone pronounce LED (as in LED display) the same way they pronounce "led". I'd say it's more likely a case of people not thinking about what they are writing. People get into the habit of using "a" when writing words that begin with a consonant, and they sometimes do that even though they would say it differently.

The same sort of thing happens with words such as "unique". Even though native speakers would automatically say "a unique design", people sometimes accidentally write "an unique design" simply because they're not paying close enough attention and the typing of "an" before an letter that is a vowel is automatic.

It may also sometimes be a case of "hypercorrection". In other words, someone might think they are using a correct grammar rule when in fact they are not.

By the way, when I did a Google search for "a LED display" and "an LED display" there were nearly four time more results for "an LED display".
InfinikBut I'm just wondering if people in the field of LED would pronounce it as "led". If that's the case, it may justify high percentage of "a LED" used.
I used to work in a field where we used a lot of LEDs in our circuit boards. We almost always pronounced it as a word so, "a LED". Which way it's pronounced is probably largely a matter of the culture of a particular company. For example, if there is a respected engineer who says "an L-E-D" then others will likely do so as well.
Yankee, thanks for your clarification.

I got this another related question. Does acronym exempt from this "an LED" rule? Do we always try to pronounce an acronym before we precede it with an "a" or "an"?

Like RayH's reply, or take this example:

We are operating on an LASIK machine. (If we pronounce L-A-S-I-K)

We are operating on a LASIK machine. (If we pronounce as one word beginning with a consonant sound)
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Hi Infinik

If, as Ray has said, there are places/companies that actually pronounce "LED" the same way they pronounce the past form of "lead" (i.e. as "led"), then I would expect them to also say "a LED". I just have never heard anyone say "LED" that way myself.

It always depends on the pronunciation. If the first sound is a vowel sound when the word is spoken, then we use "an" with it. It's as simple as that.

- an SOS (an ESS - OH - ESS)

- an HP printer (an AITCH - PEE printer)

- a one-armed bandit (The first sound in the word "one" is like the consonant W.)
I use "an LED." When you see it written out, whoever wrote it saw the consonant "L" in "LED" and followed the rule of "a" before consonant sounds. For example, the words lion, lamb, lobster. Say them aloud and you use the "L" consonant sound. So, it would be a lion, a lamb, a lobster.

But when you say LED aloud, it sounds like "ELL EE DEE." That's because it is an acronym and you pronounce the letters comprising the acronym rather than saying it as a word. That vowel sound when you pronounce "L" as "ELL" dictates that "an" that comes before it in LED. Think of words that start with that "E" THEN "L" sound. For example, the words elephant, elevator, elbow. You would use "an" in an elephant, an elevator, an elbow.

Hope that helps.
I have never head anyone say "LED" as in the past tense of "lead". It's always an L.E.D. (light emitting diode) for all the years I've dealt with it. Why "an"? I guess it's the same reason for "a university", not "an".
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