28

For example is NASA simply "NASA" or "a NASA" or "o NASA"?

What rule(s) determine the answer? The gender of the principal word in the acronym ("agency"/"agência" in this example)? The natural gender of the "word" (e.g. "nasa" would appear feminine), or something else?

28

Yes, they do. Its gender is determined by the main noun.

Examples

  • NASA is an agency (agência, f.) → a NASA
  • RAM is a memory (memória, f.) → a RAM
  • NATO is an organization (organização, f.) → a NATO or a OTAN (Organização do Tratado do Atlântico Norte)
  • IMF is a fund (fundo, m.) → o IMF or o FMI (Fundo Monetário Internacional)
  • TGV is a train (comboio, m. / trem, m.) → o TGV (Train à grande vitesse)

Added.

  • Sometimes the noun is implicit as in "the MI5 (Service)" → o (Serviço) MI5.
  • The same rule applies to Portuguese acronyms like o IST, which stands for Instituto Superior Técnico, where instituto is a masculine noun.
  • 1
    We talk "a OTAN" :) – Maniero Jul 15 '15 at 1:08
  • 1
    @bigown I've edited the answer. – Américo Tavares Jul 15 '15 at 6:36
  • 1
    @bigown In Portugal we use NATO more, but OTAN is also used. – ANeves Jul 15 '15 at 10:34
  • Your answer is solid, but it does not address cases such as "o FBI" (a Agência Federal de Investigação), as @someonewithapc raised in his question. – ANeves Jul 15 '15 at 10:51
  • 3
    @ANeves "o FBI" é sem dúvida uma agência, mas na sigla o substantivo principal é "bureau", no sentido de "departamento (governamental)", daí o artigo definido masculino; por oposição "a CIA", cujo substantivo é "agency". – Américo Tavares Jul 15 '15 at 14:19
7

Yes, they do. Generaly the same rules used to determine the gender of a word in Portuguese are applied; an example of these rules is checking wheter the word ends in a or in o. For instance, it seems natural to me to say a NASA, a NSA, but not a FBI and rather o FBI.

However, there are no fixed rules on which to use, so you'll just use which ever sounds better.

-1

Acronyms are written just like they were written in words.

Os Estados Unidos da America. Os EUA.

O Reino Unido. O RU.

Foreign acronyms are no different, the only problem is determining the gender of the foreign word.

Most times it takes the gender of the most common Portuguese translation.

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