Re: a vs. an - RANT

Subject: Re: a vs. an - RANT
From: "Nickell Traduction" <nickelltrad -at- autoroute -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2000 10:18:58 -0500

Sorry, but I need some clarification here. First you say that "a" is used
before a consonant sound in the Harbrace College Handbook, which includes
"h", and then you say that an historical is correct (emphatically) because
you were always taught that way. Isn't that a contradiction?

Anyway, I find that everytime I hear "I was always taught that way, so it's
correct" reminds me of a woman I knew who told me I had to put something a
certain way (it escapes me at the moment). I told her that I had no problem
with it if she could tell me what stylebook she was getting it from, because
everything I had seen said otherwise. She got very mad and said, "I'm
English, and I've always learned in school it was this way, so it's right."
It turned out she was quite wrong, but she assumed it to be correct, because
somebody somewhere had said so, so be careful and ready to back yourself up,
before assuming anything, and look at different sources to find out what's
the most common usage. Anyway, from what I've seen, it used to be used, but
is on the way out today, so why would you want to date yourself and use an
antiquated form, especially if you've made it your life's work to be an
"expert" in the language and to keep up to date with the "official" changes
in this "living" language. Purists do have their place, because there are
"unwanted" changes to the language as well, but their stubbornness about
certain issues would mean that we'd still be writing the same as they did
centuries ago.
-----Original Message-----
From: Jo Francis Byrd <jbyrd -at- byrdwrites -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Cc: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wednesday, March 08, 2000 4:28 PM
Subject: Re: a vs. an

|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.
|"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,
|> 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
|> with a vowel or vowel sound. So why "an historical moment"? I'm assuming
|> pronounced "an 'istorical..." Is this a British convention that we've
|> into American usage?
|> TIA
|> Kelly
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