Many learners have problems with a and an.
General rule (when to use a or an):
Use a when the following word does not start with a spoken vowel.
Example: A uniform.
Use an when the following word starts with a spoken vowel.
Example: An autograph.
Nightmare85's "a/an alphabet".
Whenever you use abbreviations like:
An HTML site, An MPUK admin, A URL, A UFO, An SSE4.1 compatible CPU, An SQL server; you must simply remember that alphabet.
It does not matter how the long version of an abbreviation is!
A UFO -> An unidentified flying object; but not An UFO!!
Give me a letter!
Okay, here we go:
Give me an A! [eɪ] +
Give me a B! [biː] -
Give me a C! [siː] -
Give me a D! [diː] -
Give me an E! [iː]
Give me an F! [ɛf]
Give me a G! [dʒiː] -
Give me an H! [eɪtʃ]
Give me an I! [aɪ] +
Give me a J! [dʒeɪ] -
Give me a K! [keɪ] -
Give me an L! [ɛl]
Give me an M! [ɛm]
Give me an N! [ɛn]
Give me an O! [oʊ]
Give me a P! [piː] -
Give me a Q! [kjuː] -
Give me an R! [ɑr]
Give me an S! [ɛs]
Give me a T! [tiː] -
Give me a U! [juː]
Give me a V! [viː] -
Give me a W! [ˈdʌbəljuː] -
Give me an X! [ɛks]
Give me a Y! [waɪ] -
Give me a Z! [zɛd] -
+ = Any word which starts with such a letter will always require the article an
- = Any word which starts with such a letter will always require the article a
Let's pick the letters that have +.
No matter what word you choose, as long as it starts with A or I, its article will always be an.
An auto dealer.
An incredible moment.
An internal error.
Let's pick some letters that have -.
No matter what word you choose, as long as it starts with B, C, T, etc, its article will always be a.
A tragic end.
There are certain conditions for all other letters:
A European. - An Emergency.
A fish. - An FTP tool.
A house. - An hour.
A language. - An L.A.P.D. officer.
A machine gun. - An MP3 player.
A one-winged angel. - An oil rig.
A rich person. - An RTL TV show.
A submarine. - An SLR McLaren.
A uniform - An unpleasant moment.
A xylophone. - An Xbox 360.
Only the word, which comes right after the a/an, matters:
An admin. - A good admin. - An excellent admin. - A bad admin.
If you are not sure, you must always ask yourself, "How do I pronounce the first letter?"
"Is it a spoken vowel or not?"
Thanks for reading!
- corrected "E" mistake (made +- out of ++)
- added better explanation to the symbols
- added another condition example with E.
- moved the explanation regarding the +- closer to the alphabet
- explained the symbols better and created better examples
- corrected the O mistake
- removed all +- symbols in order to make it clearer
- fixed all phonetics
- changed the order of some examples
- added some advice sentences
- reduced font size of the version history
- added a general rule (when to use a or an)
- removed a redundand intro sentence
- moved and extended the "ask yourself"-sentence
- fixed some minor comma mistakes
- For Teachers