Re: a vs. an

Subject: Re: a vs. an
From: Jo Francis Byrd <jbyrd -at- byrdwrites -dot- com>
To: Kelly Parr <KParr -at- c-bridge -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2000 10:13:25 -0600

Here's what my handy Harbrace College Handbook, tenth edition, 1988, says:

Use "a" before the sound of a consonant: a yard, a U-turn, a one-base hit. Use
"an" before a vowel sound: an empty can, an M.D., an ax, an X-ray."

I was always taught you use "an" before words beginning with "h," so "an
historical moment" IS grammatically correct.

Jo Byrd

Kelly Parr wrote:

> Can anyone tell me the grammatical rule for using:
> "an historical moment."
> I hear this a lot on public radio, etc., and I'm pretty sure it's wrong, but
> I'm having a debate with a colleague.
> The typical rule is to use "a" before words beginning with a consonant or
> consonant sound (including "y" and "w" words) and "an" before words beginning
> with a vowel or vowel sound. So why "an historical moment"? I'm assuming it's
> pronounced "an 'istorical..." Is this a British convention that we've taken
> into American usage?
> Kelly

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