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    • Join Date: Jan 2008
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    Question When is 'an' not to be used with 'a e i o u' words?

    Dear Language/Grammar Advisor ...

    I am aware 'an' is usually used to precede words with vowels, such as those beginning with a e i o u.

    My question is, when is 'an' not used to precede words beginning with a e i o u?

    For example, I am writing a document about 'a unified solution'. I know 'a' should precede the word 'unified' and not 'an'.

    In this case, how should I explain this as a proper English usage? Are there resource or qualified documents that talks about this that I can use to explain?

    Appreciate your advice. Thank you.

    Tech Writer

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    Re: When is 'an' not to be used with 'a e i o u' words?

    When there's a [j] (iotization, semi-consonant i, y as in "you") sound in front of the vowel as it is pronounced, you write "a", non "an". It's a phonetic rule, not a spelling rule.

    "a unified" = "eh, you-nified"

    "an unacceptable" = "a nun acceptable".

    Say it out loud. Do you see the difference?

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