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    • Join Date: Sep 2006
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    #1

    Use of "A" and "An".

    I've read that "an" is used before any word beginning with a vowel, and "a" is used for all other words. However, I've also read that a person is not "a Historian" but "an Historian", which has confused me. I've also seen other uses of "an" before a consonant, such as "I looked like an S.A.S. paratrooper."

    Are both of those uses correct, if so, why?


    • Join Date: Sep 2006
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    #2

    Re: Use of "A" and "An".

    Quote Originally Posted by RobbieCook View Post
    I've read that "an" is used before any word beginning with a vowel, and "a" is used for all other words. However, I've also read that a person is not "a Historian" but "an Historian", which has confused me. I've also seen other uses of "an" before a consonant, such as "I looked like an S.A.S. paratrooper."

    Are both of those uses correct, if so, why?
    Hi Robbie,
    from my receding memories of school I seemed to remember a teacher once saying about putting "an" before a word beginning with "h". Anyway I've just looked on answers.com and was directed to a useful learning english site:
    http://www.learnenglish.de/grammar/articlestext.htm
    We know you use "a" when the noun you are referring to begins with a consonant and we use "an" when the noun you are referring to begins with a vowel.
    This is what they say on the matter:

    Pronunciation changes this rule

    If the next word begins with a consonant sound when we say it, for example, "university" then we use a. If the next word begins with a vowel sound when we say it, for example "hour" then we use an.

    We say "university" with a "y" sound at the beginning as though it were spelt "youniversity".
    So, "a university" IS correct.

    We say "hour" with a silent h as though it were spelt "our".
    So, "an hour" IS correct.


    I'm not sure if this explains your - "an S.A.S. paratrooper"

    Has anyone else any ideas on this?

    VS


    • Join Date: Jun 2006
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    #3

    Re: Use of "A" and "An".

    Hi Robbie
    .
    The "rule" for the use of a and an is not actually based on spelling, it's based on pronunciation. Words that are pronounced as though they begin with a vowel get an. And words that are pronounced as though they begin with a consonant get a. There are only a handful of exceptions to this pronunciation rule and "historic" is one of them.
    .
    S.A.S --> the pronunciation of the first S is "es" and that's why you need "an".
    .
    a one-way ticket --> when pronounced, the word one sounds just like the word won and that's why you need "a" here.
    .
    etc.


    • Join Date: Sep 2006
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    #4

    Re: Use of "A" and "An".

    Thank you for the very interesting reply. I suppose that the "S" in "S.A.S." could use "an" because it sounds as though it's pronounced as though it begins with an "E", so it's like "Ess Aay Ess", rather than the "S" you'd use for a word like "snake".

    Edit: Thank you to you as well. It's nice to finally make some sense out of it all.

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