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  1. #1
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    Which is correct?

    I have always written "an historic ....", but now I see newspapers printing "a historic ...". Which is correct?

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Re: Which is correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Redzone View Post
    I have always written "an historic ....", but now I see newspapers printing "a historic ...". Which is correct?
    This dates back a very long time and can be blamed on "an hotel". Because the word "hotel" originally came from the French, where the "h" isn't sounded, it sounds like the word begins with a vowel sound, consequently "an". This then started to be applied to lots of words that begin with an "h".

    However, the important thing to consider is how the word is pronounced. If a word begins with a sounded vowel (hotel, historic) then we use "a", but if the "h" is unvoiced (honour), then it's "an".

    So - a historic is correct now!

  3. #3
    billmcd is offline Key Member
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    Re: Which is correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    This dates back a very long time and can be blamed on "an hotel". Because the word "hotel" originally came from the French, where the "h" isn't sounded, it sounds like the word begins with a vowel sound, consequently "an". This then started to be applied to lots of words that begin with an "h".

    However, the important thing to consider is how the word is pronounced. If a word begins with a sounded vowel (hotel, historic) then we use "a", but if the "h" is unvoiced (honour), then it's "an".

    So - a historic is correct now!
    I have no real argument w/emsr2d2's post except to say that because speakers of English and probably speakers of other languages tend to collapse/blend two words into one, and specifically the word "historic", it becomes difficult or,at least, "inconvenient" to say "a historic". So, most often you will hear AmE speakers pronounce the phrase as "an istoric" as if there were no "h".
    Last edited by billmcd; 15-May-2010 at 17:15. Reason: typo

  4. #4
    bhaisahab's Avatar
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    Re: Which is correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    This dates back a very long time and can be blamed on "an hotel". Because the word "hotel" originally came from the French, where the "h" isn't sounded, it sounds like the word begins with a vowel sound, consequently "an". This then started to be applied to lots of words that begin with an "h".

    However, the important thing to consider is how the word is pronounced. If a word begins with a sounded vowel (hotel, historic) then we use "a", but if the "h" is unvoiced (honour), then it's "an".

    So - a historic is correct now!
    In my daughter's 2010 GCSE History course, "an historic(al)" is used throughout.

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