A quote from NY Times:

For the first quarter, the bureau now says G.D.P. grew at a 1.1 percent rate — after a series of reductions from its initial estimate of 2.5 percent.

Why is there no article before GDP? It is an initialism, spelled out letter-by-letter, and I've read that they are generally used with THE. What's more, the reader knows from the text that the country in question is the US, so that's a specific and definite GDP, not some GDP in general.


G.D.P. (or GDP) is being used as a proper name and so does not take an article. You would say, for example "Peter" and not "the Peter",so you say "GDP" and not "the GDP".

  • Thanks, ColeValleyGirl! So, I guess there's no way to tell beforehand if an initialism takes THE or not (used as a proper noun or not), and one has to memorize. – CowperKettle Aug 7 '13 at 6:16
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    @CopperKettle I'm not aware of a rule that helps. – user2233 Aug 7 '13 at 7:08
  • By that logic, we would call FBI instead of the FBI, read New York Times instead of the New York Times, and the President would live in White House. The rule that helps in my opinion is that if you would put a the in front of the non-abbreviated form, you would do so with the abbreviated one as well. – BobRodes Aug 7 '13 at 20:08
  • @BobRhodes, your rule doesn't help determine whether the non-abbreviated form takes an article or not, or whether a non-abbreviated form that includes an article is in fact a proper name (which your two examples are). – user2233 Aug 8 '13 at 7:04
  • It doesn't determine categorically, but it does rule out some possibilities. To rule out some possibilities is to help IMO. We disagree. It happens. :) – BobRodes Aug 8 '13 at 19:42

It's a way of saving space. You'll find that articles are left out in newspapers quite often in article headings: "Bureau says GDP grew 1.1%" is a common sort of form. You would not find this so often in the text of the article, but if it's the easiest way to save a line of text it will happen.

  • I'm sticking to my guns and saying it's not grammatically correct but it's a way that newspapers fit their text in the available space. In other words, I disagree with the above post and don't find it to be an answer. Sorry nobody likes my answer. :) – BobRodes Aug 7 '13 at 20:17
  • Is it possible that leaving the article out is an alternative writing, that is there's not a strict rule? – Theta30 Aug 8 '13 at 0:09
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    The rule is a hard-and-fast rule, but is sometimes set aside in situations where printed space is at a premium. Pick up any box of cereal and look at the recipe on the side, and you'll probably see an example of the style. – BobRodes Aug 14 '13 at 20:29

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