"A" versus "an" before nouns

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roatanmama
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"A" versus "an" before nouns

Post by roatanmama » 26 Jul 2017, 09:53

According to Scribendi and others, not all words that begin with a vowel should be preceded by "an." I wrote: something about "a" ewe. The editor here said it should be "an" ewe. Would you say "an university?" Or "an European?"

I disagree, as does Scribendi: "The word may start with an e, but think for a minute about the sound that the word makes: you-we. We know that y is a consonant."

Conversely, should a word like "herb" have the adjective "a" simply because herb starts with a consonant?

What does anyone else think?

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Post by Eismaylee » 26 Jul 2017, 10:57

If we say "a" versus "an" has a big difference. Like for example, an apple vs a bag. The article an is use when the first letter of the noun is a vowel and the article a is use when the first letter of the nouns is consonant. I hope you understand

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Post by kittymamamau » 26 Jul 2017, 11:05

I don't think it's about what the word actually starts with. It's about the initial sound of the word. If it starts with a vowel sound, like herb has a silent h, you use an.

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Post by roatanmama » 26 Jul 2017, 11:58

Thank you both. I'm glad kittymamamau agrees. It is not that the noun starts with a consonant or vowel. It is how it SOUNDS, according to the experts. I got docked 10 for this when I shouldn't have.

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Post by Tariqah » 26 Jul 2017, 13:20

Sometimes, it depends on how it sounds versus read. The " 'an' before a vowel" rule should be generally applied but when in doubt, say it aloud or Google it.

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Post by BoyLazy » 30 Sep 2017, 03:24

Eismaylee wrote:If we say "a" versus "an" has a big difference. Like for example, an apple vs a bag. The article an is use when the first letter of the noun is a vowel and the article a is use when the first letter of the nouns is consonant. I hope you understand
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Post by Rosemary Wright » 04 Dec 2017, 12:42

The " a " and the " an " usage. " a " is used before a noun with a pronounciation that starts with a consonant sound and " an " before a noun, with a pronounciation that starts with a vowel sound. For example, " An honest man " because the h is silent in pronunciation. " A book " book starts with a consonant sound.

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Post by roatanmama » 04 Dec 2017, 14:24

Thank you. That is what I was taught. Maybe their editor was not born and taught in the US. I do know different countries have different rules for the English language.

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Post by kandscreeley » 04 Dec 2017, 14:29

That is one that I do think varies by country. For example, I'm pretty sure the h in herb is pronounced in some countries. So, they would then say a herb. That's a tough one...
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Post by roatanmama » 04 Dec 2017, 14:40

You are so right. I have a writer friend from England and she and I always get a chuckle out of the differences.

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Post by ReyvrexQuestor Reyes » 30 Dec 2017, 06:49

roatanmama wrote:
26 Jul 2017, 09:53
According to Scribendi and others, not all words that begin with a vowel should be preceded by "an." I wrote: something about "a" ewe. The editor here said it should be "an" ewe. Would you say "an university?" Or "an European?"

I disagree, as does Scribendi: "The word may start with an e, but think for a minute about the sound that the word makes: you-we. We know that y is a consonant."

Conversely, should a word like "herb" have the adjective "a" simply because herb starts with a consonant?

What does anyone else think?
I could say something about "ewe" which I have encountered also. How many times I wrote "an ewe" which the Grammarly always changes to "a ewe" pronounced "a yooh" and I concurred.
"In the beginning was the word.........John 1:1"

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Post by ReyvrexQuestor Reyes » 30 Dec 2017, 07:15

In the case of "ewe" if whether "a" or "an" is to be used, it is definitely "a" that is correct usage. At least, that is what Google says and Grammarly always changes the "an" into "a" whenever I write.
"In the beginning was the word.........John 1:1"

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Post by victorycoffee » 02 Jan 2018, 17:48

the "an herb" thing is a funny one - historically there have been a bunch of h-words that take the article "an" in front - like "an historic event"

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Post by Rohit Chandiramani » 08 Jan 2018, 00:58

According to me, its depend upon the initial sound of the word not in starting for any word or sentences. Use a before words that start with a consonant sound and an before words that start with a vowel sound.

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Post by fergie » 08 Jan 2018, 13:07

It's definitely about the sound rather than just whether it's a vowel. We often use the rule that it's "an" with a vowel as it usually works. But if the sound is a "yoo" one, eg university, ewe etc it's "a". It just comes down to what sounds best.

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