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Thread: "a or an"...

  1. #1
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    "a or an"...

    Hi

    I know EFL / ESL learners are taught that with words that begin with vowels - we use "an" and with consonants we use "a".

    So the following sentence should be...

    .... of an one-legged sailor..

    however as a native speaker the following sounds more natural...

    .. of a one-legged sailor....

    I have a feeling it might have something to do with the fact the word is one-legged and not just one (as I can't think of a situation where we would say ...an one....)

    Any ideas with trying to explain this to a non-native speaker???

    smiles

  2. #2
    smelvanzq is offline Member
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    Smile Re: "a or an"...

    Hi! I'm not native in english but may I give you my opinion? I have read that "a" can also be used in words that although starts in vowel but sounds consonant, but not in all cases.

    ..of a one-legged... is correct
    Hope it helped.

  3. #3
    matilda Guest

    Talking Re: "a or an"...

    dear friends
    read this post correctly, and then you can understand what to do.

    when teachers tell their students ( especially the non-native ones) that you should use an before the words that start with a, e ,i, o ,u , they never mean that you can not use an with the other words. as you can see, we always use AN HOUR, but not a hour, although it starts with H.
    when teachers say this, they mean that ( every vocabulary that starts with THE SOUNDS OF VOWELS ) will get an insted of a .

    for example, suppose the word honor, and check its pronunciation in oxford dictionary. you can see that H is not pronunced. the begining of HONOR is heard like the begining of the word other.

    again go to the oxford dictionary and look up the pronunciation of the word one . you'll see that this word's begining is heard EXACTLY LIKE the begining of the word vacation.

    i can not explain you more because this site doesn't have a part mentioning phonetics, or i couldn't find it yet.

    by the way, you can look up your dictionary and you'll see that what is heard is important, and not the thing that is written.

    Hope that helps

    Matilda

  4. #4
    softhard is offline Newbie
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    Re: "a or an"...

    As Matilda has pointed out, "a" or "an" is a pronounciation rule. Generally speaking, you use "an" before a vowel sound. Some words start with a vowel letter but begin with a consonant sound, so we use "a", e.g.
    a university (ju), a European (ju), a one-parent family (w) - by the way, "one" starts with a w-consonant like "we" and not with "v" like "vacation".
    We use "an" before words with a vowel sound, e.g.
    an orange, an Italian, an umbrella.
    These include words that begin with a silent "h", e.g.
    an hour, an honest child, an honour, an heir.
    Moreover, abbreviations said as individual letters that begin with A, E, F, H, I, L, M, N, O, R, S, X also take "an", e.g.
    an MP, an FBI agent, an NGO member
    Compare, however, abbreviations said as words: a NATO general, a FIFA official.

    If you've any further questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
    Angelika

  5. #5
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    Re: "a or an"...

    Thank you everyone for your comments and information!!

    I guess I need to learn about my language from a non-native perspective!!!

    smiles

  6. #6
    matilda Guest

    Talking Re: "a or an"...

    Dear english learne

    I'm a non-native, too. whenever you feel any help, you can count on me
    and try to buy some good books about Pronunciations and try to buy some books that have some cassettes with them. it really works

    Matilda

  7. #7
    softhard is offline Newbie
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    Re: "a or an"...

    My pleasure, riceball.

  8. #8
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    Re: "a or an"...

    a one-legged sailor

    is correct

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