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    #1

    an unsuccessful vs. a unsuccessful?

    Are both "an unsuccessful attempt" and "a unsuccessful attempt" acceptable? The latter strikes me as incorrect, yet one of my peers tells me differently.
    Anybody could help?
    Thank you!


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409
    #2

    Re: an unsuccessful vs. a unsuccessful?

    Ask him why
    ...when the rule is, 'an' before a word beginning with a vowel, as in 'unsuccessful'
    Last edited by David L.; 07-Oct-2008 at 22:59.


    • Join Date: Oct 2008
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    #3

    Re: an unsuccessful vs. a unsuccessful?

    Thank you!
    That is what I was leaning towards, but since the peer in question (a 'she,' by the way :)) is one of my instructors, I thought that she might be privy to some subtleties of the English language!


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409
    #4

    Re: an unsuccessful vs. a unsuccessful?

    Oh.
    I didn't realize it was an Amer. Eng. speaker who was asserting this to you.

    I'm beginning to gather, that in Amer. Eng., if a person says it, and it's vaguely comprehensible to others, then it's acceptable. (icon for cynicism)

    How does she pronounce 'a'? As in 'hay/may/day' - or as in 'huh'

    The views expressed by David L. were those of a Brit. Eng. speaker and might not necessarily those of some members of this forum, living or dead. No animals were injured by this post though some feathers are possiibly ruffled.
    Last edited by David L.; 07-Oct-2008 at 23:06.

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    #5

    Re: an unsuccessful vs. a unsuccessful?

    The rule is not "the word begins with a vowel" but rather the word begins with a vowel sound.

    It's a once in a lifetime thing ... "uh wonze"
    It's an honest man who ... "an on-est"
    It's a history lesson ... "uh his-tory"

    Unless you're a rather sloppy English speaker and would say, It's an 'istory lesson (not pronouncing the h).

    There is a similar rule about the pronunciation of the article the. Fortunately there's no difference in spelling, but the before a vowel sound is more like thee, and before a consonant, more like thuh. It's not as strong a distinction, certainly not one you need to worry about, often in fact entirely indistinguishable in common speech: "Whether you pick the apple or the banana.... "


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
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    #6

    Re: an unsuccessful vs. a unsuccessful?

    ...which prior to your observation, you will note that I had already corrected, if you look back at my post. (Last edited at 22.59.)
    That's 2 minutes after typing the original; so how come at 5.12 the original uncorrected post is still viewable, me wonders.
    As I was typing my post, I was actually thinking of 'hotel' and how many people might still adhere to 'an hotel'...and 'noun' popped out through my fingers.

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