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    #1

    a hobby vs an hour

    Why do we say a hobby and an hour? Both words start with the same letter 'h'. Why do we use different forms of the indefinite article a/an? Is there any rule I'm not familiar with? Thanks

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: a hobby vs an hour

    The a/an difference is based on the way the following word sounds, not how it is spelled. The H is pronounced in hobby, but it's silent in hour. If you go to an online dictionary that has pronunciation, you can hear the two words.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #3

    Re: a hobby vs an hour

    Some words starting with "h", when spoken, don't sound the "h" at all. You will probably have to just gradually learn them as you stumble across them. Here are a few examples (BrE):

    an hour (pron. "our")
    an heir (pron. "air")
    an honour (pron. "onner")

    No doubt, if this thread continues, the usual argument over the word "hotel" will spring up!

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    #4

    Re: a hobby vs an hour

    [AmE - not a teacher]

    I won't mention "hotel", but I've seen debates about "historic"

    And, I've heard "herb" with and without the "H" sound, and off the top of my head, I don't know which is correct!

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    #5

    Re: a hobby vs an hour

    Herb is a person. Herb is a flavoring. The "h" is pronounced only in the former.

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    #6

    Re: a hobby vs an hour

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    Herb is a person. Herb is a flavoring. The "h" is pronounced only in the former.
    No, that is AmE. Most of us pronounce the 'h' in herb (I mean in most countries, perhaps not numerically).
    I'm pretty sure that most men called Herb are also American.

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    #7

    Re: a hobby vs an hour

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    No, that is AmE. Most of us pronounce the 'h' in herb (I mean in most countries, perhaps not numerically).
    I'm pretty sure that most men called Herb are also American.
    Bob is American according to his profile, so I was answering with that I mind.

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    #8

    Re: a hobby vs an hour

    OUT OF CURIOSITY:

    Having learnt English mostly in Ireland, I've always pronounced AITCH with an H at the start as most speakers of Irish English would do that. While working in N.Z. I was pointed out by one fellow-teacher that AITCHES don't take an H in their pronunciation. So I investigated the matter and came across this theory whereby in the south of Ireland (the Republic) people tend to pronounce the H whereas only Catholic speakers would in the North. Only at that stage I remembered reading a short story when I was at school about how Northern Irish children would be able to figure out whether a child would be Protestant or Catholic by saying the alphabet out loud while playing together in the playground.
    I just find that amazing and sad at the same time.
    Shan

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    #9

    Re: a hobby vs an hour

    In my own defense, I do watch a lot of BBC

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    #10

    Re: a hobby vs an hour

    Quote Originally Posted by shannico View Post
    OUT OF CURIOSITY:

    Having learnt English mostly in Ireland, I've always pronounced AITCH with an H at the start as most speakers of Irish English would do that. While working in N.Z. I was pointed out by one fellow-teacher that AITCHES don't take an H in their pronunciation. So I investigated the matter and came across this theory whereby in the south of Ireland (the Republic) people tend to pronounce the H whereas only Catholic speakers would in the North. Only at that stage I remembered reading a short story when I was at school about how Northern Irish children would be able to figure out whether a child would be Protestant or Catholic by saying the alphabet out loud while playing together in the playground.
    I just find that amazing and sad at the same time.
    Shan
    Do you mean people pronounce the letter "H" when reciting the alphabet as "Haitch"?

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