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Thread: 'a' or 'an'

  1. Key Member
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    #11

    Re: 'a' or 'an'

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    Hanky:Can you give an acronym or abbreviation beginning with R that is similar to "Send an SOS."...and so requires 'an'?
    Well, how about "an RSS" ...?

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    Note: it refers to 'letters of the alphabet', not acronyms or abbreviations....
    OK, it is my bad. But there must be a rule as I have stated for acronyms and abbreviations.


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    #12

    Re: 'a' or 'an'

    Well, how about "an RSS" ...?

    Good for you. I couldn't think of one.
    Now, how do you pronounce/say that? RRRRSSSSSSSSSSS?
    It would have to be pronounced, R.S.S.
    Now: take these words:
    amen (with the pronunciation ahhmen) = R-MEN (ARE-MEN)
    Armani fashions = R-MAHNY = ARE-MAHNY

    So, R.S.S. would be pronounced ARE-ESS-ESS ~ AHHHH-ESS-ESS

    Can you see that the beginning R sound is not as in ROUGH, RIDER or ROBERT, but more as we would pronounce a word beginning with 'a', that is, a vowel sound, and hence, takes 'an'.

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    #13

    Re: 'a' or 'an'

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    Well, how about "an RSS" ...?

    Good for you. I couldn't think of one.
    Now, how do you pronounce/say that? RRRRSSSSSSSSSSS?
    It would have to be pronounced, R.S.S.
    Now: take these words:
    amen (with the pronunciation ahhmen) = R-MEN (ARE-MEN)
    Armani fashions = R-MAHNY = ARE-MAHNY

    So, R.S.S. would be pronounced ARE-ESS-ESS ~ AHHHH-ESS-ESS

    Can you see that the beginning R sound is not as in ROUGH, RIDER or ROBERT, but more as we would pronounce a word beginning with 'a', that is, a vowel sound, and hence, takes 'an'.
    Well, I understood you perfectly. What you said is completely correct: a word that starts with a "vowel sound" would require "an".

    So, what was misunderstanding here?

    For people who are learning English as a foreign language, can they know how to pronounce every word correctly in order to see which article will be appropriate: "an" or "a"? I am afraid that most of them can't. ( Well, I was laughing out loud when reading one reply post in our forum: in order to see how many syllables one word has one need to "Use your hands to clap out how many syallables a word has ....". But the problem is that the asker doesn't know how to pronounce it correctly. ). Therefore a smart stick is need to help non-native English speaker overcome this difficulty of using "a" and "an".

    I guess, for acronyms ( all acronyms are abbreviations) start with A E F H I L M N O R S X the first letter sounds like an "vowel sound" therefore "an" should be used. ( Can some of you comment on this?).

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    #14

    Re: 'a' or 'an'

    Quote Originally Posted by hanky View Post
    Well, I understood you perfectly. What you said is completely correct: a word that starts with a "vowel sound" would require "an".

    So, what was misunderstanding here?

    For people who are learning English as a foreign language, can they know how to pronounce every word correctly in order to see which article will be appropriate: "an" or "a"? I am afraid that most of them can't. ( Well, I was laughing out loud when reading one reply post in our forum: in order to see how many syllables one word has one need to "Use your hands to clap out how many syallables a word has ....". But the problem is that the asker doesn't know how to pronounce it correctly. ). Therefore a smart stick is need to help non-native English speaker overcome this difficulty of using "a" and "an".

    I guess, for acronyms ( all acronyms are abbreviations) start with A E F H I L M N O R S X the first letter sounds like an "vowel sound" therefore "an" should be used. ( Can some of you comment on this?).
    Dear Hanky, please add U in your list.

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    #15

    Re: 'a' or 'an'

    Quote Originally Posted by hanky View Post
    Well, I replyed when you were editing your post. :)
    Hi, Hanky! I'm not a teacher, either, but I do a lot of editing and have tutored writing and have gotten few complaints about the quality of my work.

    Here are two important points that you need to keep sight of and Cadrie needs to understand:

    1. It's not about the letter after the article, it's about the sound.

    2. It's not about arbitrary rules. The many rules governing this question all boil down to ease of speech. It's easier to say a union than an union, so we do. It's easier to say an onion than a onion, so we do.

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    #16

    Re: 'a' or 'an'

    Hanky:Can you give an acronym or abbreviation beginning with R that is similar to "Send an SOS."...and so requires 'an'?


    Emma was told she would be paid a visit by an R.S.P.C.A representative the following day!

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    #17

    Re: 'a' or 'an'

    Quote Originally Posted by Luizao View Post
    Hanky:Can you give an acronym or abbreviation beginning with R that is similar to "Send an SOS."...and so requires 'an'?


    Emma was told she would be paid a visit by an R.S.P.C.A representative the following day!
    That was a good example and an elaborative one too.

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    #18

    Re: 'a' or 'an'

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    Hanky: understand that others read our posts, and it is important for learners that any inadvertent 'misinformation' picked up in good faith but from unreliable sources (such as the Internet!) needs to be commented on.

    I checked that site, and it spells out about 'an' before vowels, and then says:
    Use 'an' in front of these letters of the alphabet (when used as isolated letters) because of
    the way they are sounded: A E F H I L M N O R S X
    "My last name begins with an M. Write an X in the blank. No student wants an F for a
    course grade."
    Note: it refers to 'letters of the alphabet', not acronyms or abbreviations, and is reiterating what I posted earlier:
    As letters per se, EFF, ELL, EMM, ENN,ESS and EXX commence with a vowel sound.
    (Compare B, C, D,G,J,K,P,Q,R,T,V,W,Y,and Z.)
    There's so much things to know about English, actually. Thanks for your relentlessness in searching them

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