An MBA or a MBA: The right way

An mba or a mba

A large chunk of individuals complain about the complexities of English grammar, especially in the business world. These complexities show up in scenarios where you need to decide if you should address your Master’s Degree as “an MBA” or “a MBA.”

However, this post basically covers every fact you will need to make the right decision.

Most people secretly harbor the thought that every graduate should be above complexities of this sort -regardless of the field-, the many expectations to the language overrules this possibility.

But, irrespective of whether you are about to start taking courses for your Masters in Business Administration or might have completed it, you would want to know if it’s appropriate to use “an MBA” or “a MBA” in any given scenario.

So, the question is, “What exactly is the right answer?”

But, just before we go into that, we’ll need to take a close look at the factors that play a significant role in our answer.

The “A or An” Rule

More often than not, it’s general knowledge that in English, indefinite articles like “a” or “an” are used before words; trying to define something that’s not specific.

Although, this is in contrast with “the” –a definite article which refers to something specific.

But, the kindergarten rule that says, “an” goes before a word that begins with a vowel, and “a” goes before a word that begins with a consonant,” is only true to an extent. Instead, the more stringent rule is “the “an” article is used before a word with the vowel sounds, while the ‘a’ article is used before a word with a consonant sound.

In other words, the focal point is the sounds and not just the letters.

Read Also: When is MBA Worth It? 3 Things To Consider Before Enrolling

Application of the “A or An Rule” to the subject matter (An MBA or A MBA)

So, going by the rule you used to know, you wouldn’t have a problem assigning “a” to the word MBA. “An MBA” obviously sounded weird -saying it out loud- plus the first letter was a consonant.

However, when you try pronouncing the M in “MBA”, the actual sound that comes out is “EM”; which is a vowel sound.

Also, this is applicable to the word “hour”. It begins with a consonant “h” but makes a vowel sound “o” not an “h” sound. This is why we do not say “a hour” but rather “an hour.” Regardless of the fact that it begins with a consonant, the determinant factor is the sound.


Following the stringent rule plus the streams of examples above; the right way to address the acronym for a Master’s degree in Business administration is “an MBA.”

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