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  1. Hyuji's Avatar
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    #1

    Are the way we pronounce articles the same way we should write them?

    Hey guys.

    So whenever I read about articles, I read about how you use 'a' before words starting with consonants, and 'an' before words with vowels, which is quite true, but I was curious about something. In spoken English, we can use 'a' before 'university', even though starting with a u, because of how it's pronounced, and use 'an' before 'hour' in the same way. Since we don't pronounce things when writing, I was wondering whether or not we would use them "correctly" when writing, where we would use 'an' before 'university' and 'a' before 'hour'?

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Are the way we pronounce articles the same way we should write them?

    Hello Hujui and welcome to Using English

    First, let me say thank you for for using correct capitalization and punctuation in your post. I wish all first-time posters did the same.

    The rule is to use "a" before consonant SOUNDS and "an" before vowel SOUNDS.

    An FBI agent because we say "eff bee eye" etc.

    So yes, we write them the way we say them.

    Some words (like "herb") are said differently by different people. In this case, Americans say "an erb" but our British friends say "a herb."

    "Historical" is another word that people say differently. I say "an 'istorical" but some people say "a historical" - so you can write that one either way.
    Last edited by Barb_D; 24-Aug-2014 at 18:25.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Are the way we pronounce articles the same way we should write them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hyuji View Post
    Hey guys.

    Whenever I read about articles, I read about how you use 'a' before words starting with consonants, and 'an' before words with vowels, which is NOT! quite true, but I was curious about something. In spoken English, we can use 'a' before 'university', even though starting with a u, because of how it's pronounced, and use 'an' before 'hour' in the same way. Since we don't pronounce things when writing, I was wondering whether or not we would use them "correctly" when writing, where we would use 'an' before 'university' and 'a' before 'hour'?
    The y sound does not have an an in front of it, and university starts with a y sound. Hour starts with an ow sound, because the h is silent, so it does have an an in front of it.*

    Write it the way you say it. If it's not correct spoken, then it's not correct written, either. When we read, we imagine the sounds of the words.

    The only reason we have an is to make the a flow smoothly into the next word. If we said a apple or a elephant, it would sound like we had hiccups. This is one of the reasons why y can be either a vowel or a consonant. It's usually a consonant when it's the first letter of a word, and it's always a vowel when it's the last.

    Charlie

    *In English, some people pronounce the h in history, and others don't, so you can use either an a or an an, depending on how you like to pronounce it. Either is fine. Just be consistent.

    PS - Never start with So. It's fashionable but meaningless, unnecessary, wonky, and pretentious.
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 24-Aug-2014 at 18:32.

  4. Hyuji's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Are the way we pronounce articles the same way we should write them?

    Hey, Barb. Thanks for the new nickname (understanding that it was probably a typo, but anyway). Thanks for the welcome. Oh why thank you. Whenever I write stuff, even if I'm meant to be "informal" and such with friends, as I have heard, I still do try to at least LOOK smart. Anyway, yeah that's what I thought, but I was making sure. Thanks man. I also never really thought about the way Americans say herb until now, thanks.

    Hey Charlie. Yeah it does sound a bit strange when you say things like 'a apple', ae. Also, yeah I guess it makes sense that we would write things how it sounds, but I was thinking that, since spoken English and written English are different in lots of ways, this might be one of them or something. Anyway, thanks.

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    #5

    Re: Are the way we pronounce articles the same way we should write them?

    When I do write my articles or research papers I frequently write different than I pronounce words so I must work on this. I am a good writer and have good grammar but I still make silly mistakes every now and then.

  5. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Are the way we pronounce articles the same way we should write them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    PS - Never start with So. It's fashionable but meaningless, unnecessary, wonky, and pretentious.
    Gee, Charlie. Thanks for that advice. How about if I write the way I write, and you write the way you write? Will that work for you? Sorry you find me so pretentious, but it's the way I write. Oh, and I start sentences with little interjections and sometimes - gasp - with conjunctions and even (oh the horror!) sometimes include em-dashes and parenthetical comments. But since I'm paid (well) to write for a living, I'm pretty comfortable with my style. Okay? Great. Thanks.


    Hyuji, I apologize for messing up your name. Probably more the need for better reading glasses than a typo.



    Last edited by Tdol; 25-Aug-2014 at 11:03. Reason: Typo
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  6. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Are the way we pronounce articles the same way we should write them?

    Quote Originally Posted by leeman2545 View Post
    When I do write my articles or research papers I frequently write different than I pronounce words so I must work on this. I am a good writer and have good grammar but I still make silly mistakes every now and then.
    We ALL make mistakes. It's often NOT the case that we don't know better. It's that we're rushed or distracted or we write what we "hear" in our head so we end up writing hear instead of here or no instead of know, etc.

    It's super hard to proofread your own work because you already know what it's supposed to say.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  7. Hyuji's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Are the way we pronounce articles the same way we should write them?

    Hey Charlie. Well, I don't know what to say. I feel like if I left out 'so' it might be a bit too forward, maybe? I don't know, but I don't want to take out the so, and as Barb said, that is how I write, so take it or leave it. Also, I am well aware that you aren't meant to start a sentence with 'well', but meh. I write what I say, as we have mentioned before.

    Hey Barb. Don't worry about it, I don't really care. I'd care more if you pronounced it wrong. You don't know how many people I've skype with who say 'hai-yuji'. It's really annoying, actually. And yeah I can also agree with you in that I do all those little things, like parenthetical comments (not quite sure what the rest really are, but I probably do them anyway).

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    #9

    Re: Are the way we pronounce articles the same way we should write them?

    With foreign or made-up words, it is easy to read something that looks a bit more like a word in the target language.

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