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    #1

    Question A Historic or An Historic

    I've seen writers use "an historic" on more than one occasion -- even seemingly respectable writers and in respectable newspapers/mags/books. Surely this cannot be correct?

    I do know the rule about "an" before vowel sounds, but for some inexplicable reason many seem to trip up on "historic". Any comments or observations?

    - Savozaul

  1. #2

    Re: A Historic or An Historic

    An before a word beginning with h, and where the stress is not on the first syllable, is correct in British English. The usual three are an hotel, an historic __________, and an historian. It is very formal, and rare in spoken English - usually used by newsreaders.

  2. Fazzu's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: A Historic or An Historic

    Also, an exmaple most commonly used in British English:
    "(An) hour ago...."


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    #4

    Re: A Historic or An Historic

    Hi,
    It seems to me, an historic , being closer to French, is plummy or stilted.

  3. matilda
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    #5

    Talking Re: A Historic or An Historic

    historic has two pronunciations.
    with H sound like the begining of hello, and I sound like the bigining of hour.
    so you can use a or an according to your own pronunciation

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    #6

    Smile Re: A Historic or An Historic

    Thanks for the responses. Well, "an hour" is definitely correct because of the pronunciation of hour as "our" (vowel sound), but I don't see how historic could be pronounced as 'istoric, except perhaps in a Cockney accent! The rule pertaining to second syllable stress does seem plausible, but I think I would go for a hotel, a historian and an historic ____, regardless.

    Cheers!

  4. rewboss's Avatar

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    #7

    Re: A Historic or An Historic

    You're right that the "h" in "historic" should be pronounced in standard English. It's not really a pronunciation issue.

    Whichever you decide to go for, you need to be consistent. If you write "an historic", you should also write "an hotel" and "an historian". Choose one rule and stick to it; don't keep changing your mind.

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    #8

    Re: A Historic or An Historic

    The indefinite article "an" is used before words that start with a vowel[ except those with the long "u" sound --a university, a UFO and many others] and before words beginning with an unvoiced "h"
    e.g.:
    an honest opinion
    an honourable man
    an heir

    Thus, "historic" is supposed to get the indefinite article "a" - here , the sound "h" is voiced . See more examples:
    a hotel, a hostess, a huge mistake, etc.

    If you want to take an FCE exam or some others the previously written grammar rules on indefinite article should be taken into consideration


    Even so, many writers use an before h, even when not silent, when the word is not accented on the first syllable.

    An historian, such as we have been attempting to describe, would indeed be an intellectual prodigy.—Macaulay.

    The Persians were an heroic people like the Greeks.-Brewer

    He [Rip] evinced an hereditary disposition to attend to anything else but his business.—Irving.

    An habitual submission of the understanding to mere events and images.—Coleridge.

    An hereditary tenure of these offices.—Thomas Jefferson.


    All the best,

  5. rewboss's Avatar

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    #9

    Re: A Historic or An Historic

    One small point, teia: "H" is not voiced. A "voiced" consonant is, for example, "b" compared to the unvoiced "p". The sound represented by "h" is an unvoiced aspirate. In words like "honour" it is not pronounced; in "history" it is pronounced but not voiced.

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    #10

    Re: A Historic or An Historic

    Thank you for clarifying that, rewboss. I thought that I should have written "pronounced" instead of "voiced" but I was not sure. Now I know.



    Have a nice day!

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