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    • Join Date: May 2007
    • Posts: 7

    question from abroad

    (have low english skill)
    hello,i can't understand in which time i should to use "an".

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • German
      • Home Country:
      • Austria
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: May 2006
    • Posts: 134

    Wink Re: question from abroad

    we usually learn in school that it depends on the first letter of the word
    a,e,i,o,u => an
    other letters => a
    but that isn't always right. It usually depends on the pronounciation of the first letter.
    The a,e,i,o,u stuff works, but only for a,e,i,o
    for example you say 'a uniform', because it's prnounced as 'yuniform'
    another example is 'an hour', because you don't say the h (so the first letter would be 'o')

    I'm really sorry that I can't express myself that well to explain it better, but I hope I could help you a little.
    But being not a Native Speaker has its advantages......You have to learn everything about the english language in school, and then even even some Native Speakers are puzzled about what we learn. (Because sometimes Native Speakers don't really have an explanation for things, that seem so easy to us.)

    • Join Date: May 2007
    • Posts: 72

    Re: question from abroad

    Use 'a' with nouns starting with a consonant (letters that are not vowels),
    'an' with nouns starting with a vowel (a,e,i,o,u)
    For example:
    A boy
    An apple
    A car
    An orange
    A house
    An opera

    An before an h mute - an hour, an honour.
    A before u and eu when they sound like 'you': a european, a university, a unit

    The indefinite article is used:

    -to refer to something for the first time:
    An elephant and a mouse fell in love.
    Would you like a drink?
    I've finally got a good job.
    -to refer to a particular member of a group or class


    with names of jobs:
    John is a doctor.
    Mary is training to be an engineer.
    He wants to be a dancer.
    with nationalities and religions:
    John is an Englishman.
    Kate is a Catholic.
    with musical instruments:
    Sherlock Holmes was playing a violin when the visitor arrived.
    (BUT to describe the activity we say "He plays the violin.")
    with names of days:
    I was born on a Thursday

    -to refer to a kind of, or example of something:
    the mouse had a tiny nose
    the elephant had a long trunk
    it was a very strange car

    -with singular nouns, after the words 'what' and 'such':
    What a shame!
    She's such a beautiful girl.

    -meaning 'one', referring to a single object or person:
    I'd like an orange and two lemons please.
    The burglar took a diamond necklace and a valuable painting.

    Notice also that we usually say a hundred, a thousand, a million.

    NOTE: that we use 'one' to add emphasis or to contrast with other numbers:
    I don't know one person who likes eating elephant meat.
    We've got six computers but only one printer.

    Practice here:


    Hope you can understand! ;)
    Enjoy your studying!

    • Join Date: May 2007
    • Posts: 7

    Re: question from abroad

    (sorry for my english)
    Thanks you a lot Ben_Adam and steph333 ! Now I'm recognizing the sense of 'an' and 'a'. My second teacher who teachs me english, told me that 'an' means 'if' and I misunderstand it . It's horrible :)
    And thanks again Ben_Adham for test, can u give me some easy teast to do better my skills. i want to study abroad , (in usa or englang ) and have to know english much better then i'm knowing now. I will be verry thank for more theory about rules of english.

    Yours Alex.

    i have one more question : why x-ray writting like "an x-ray"
    Last edited by cheap cigarette; 10-May-2007 at 22:36.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • German
      • Home Country:
      • Austria
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: May 2006
    • Posts: 134

    Re: question from abroad

    an x-ray....
    it's because of the pronounciation of the 'x', and the 'x' is pronounced as 'ex'...
    and e is a vowel, that's why...

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