Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    71
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Issue of the form of the article - "an" vs "a"

    String theory is an research program within the context of quantum field theory.
    Time and again I come across the “an” form of the indefinite article that, the rule says, should be used before a vowel while I actually see it before a word beginning with a consonant (as in the phrase above).
    I dismissed it as a mistake earlier but as I see more and more occurrences of this, even in editions such as “The Times”, for instance (the citation is not from it, however) I begin to wonder – is there a point there?
    May be it is some kind of very literary or old fashioned usage?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    13,572
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Issue of the form of the article - "an" vs "a"

    Quote Originally Posted by black_velvet View Post
    Time and again I come across the “an” form of the indefinite article that, the rule says, should be used before a vowel while I actually see it before a word beginning with a consonant (as in the phrase above).
    I dismissed it as a mistake earlier but as I see more and more occurrences of this, even in editions such as “The Times”, for instance (the citation is not from it, however) I begin to wonder – is there a point there?
    May be it is some kind of very literary or old fashioned usage?

    Thank you.
    The sentence you started with is incorrect.

    However, you may not completely understand the rule. Use a before words/abbreviations that begin with a consonant sound; use an before words/abbreviations that begin with a vowel sound. This is based on pronunciation, not spelling.

    Hence:

    a university
    an hour
    an ytterbium molecule
    a yellow dog
    a U
    an M

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    71
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Issue of the form of the article - "an" vs "a"

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    The sentence you started with is incorrect.

    However, you may not completely understand the rule. Use a before words/abbreviations that begin with a consonant sound; use an before words/abbreviations that begin with a vowel sound. This is based on pronunciation, not spelling.

    Hence:

    a university
    an hour
    an ytterbium molecule
    a yellow dog
    a U
    an M
    Yeah, I know the rule I mean I have seen, more than once, the "an" used before a word with a consonant sound at the beginning of it, too!
    And I remember seeing the an-form before words like 'house'
    So it is a mistake after all?

  4. #4
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    15,473
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Issue of the form of the article - "an" vs "a"

    Quote Originally Posted by black_velvet View Post
    Yeah, I know the rule I mean I have seen, more than once, the "an" used before a word with a consonant sound at the beginning of it, too!
    And I remember seeing the an-form before words like 'house'
    So it is a mistake after all?
    It's a mistake the source of which is - I suspect - traceable to editing. Maybe the text started life as 'String theory is an important/insignficant/AHRC research program within the context of quantum field theory.' When they deleted the qualifier, they didn't tidy up after themselves.

    b

  5. #5
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    13,572
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Issue of the form of the article - "an" vs "a"

    Quote Originally Posted by black_velvet View Post
    Yeah, I know the rule I mean I have seen, more than once, the "an" used before a word with a consonant sound at the beginning of it, too!
    And I remember seeing the an-form before words like 'house'
    So it is a mistake after all?
    Yes, then definitely a mistake.

Similar Threads

  1. Articles "a", "an" "the"
    By Unregistered in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 25-Aug-2009, 14:22
  2. The use of "a" or "an" in a sentence.
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 30-Mar-2009, 15:31
  3. Should the article "a" be used or not in these sentences?
    By Stefan2007 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 19-Oct-2006, 17:20
  4. Use of "A" and "An".
    By RobbieCook in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 18-Sep-2006, 23:03
  5. Using "a" vs "an"
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 21-Sep-2003, 22:08

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Hotchalk