TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:RE: a vs. an From:Bill Burns <BillDB -at- intl -dot- com> To:TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com> Date:Thu, 9 Mar 2000 10:13:04 -0700
> Kelly Parr wrote:
> > Can anyone tell me the grammatical rule for using:
> > "an historical moment."
It has more to do with how the word is pronounced than how it's spelled. If
a word begins with a glottal plosive or stop (that is, in this case, a vowel
sound), you use "an." As I understand, this is because standard English
phonology doesn't accommodate consecutive glottal stops very well. (See how
clumsy "a orange" feels to you. The only legitimate exception I can think of
off the top of my head for consecutive glottal stops is "uh-oh.") Some
English dialects may have variant rules that make it more common.
So, preceding a "vowel sound," use an. Preceding a consonant sound, use a.
If you prnounce the word "historical" with an initial vowel, use an.
Bill Burns - Eccentric Technology Consultant
INT'L.com Design & Development
billdb -at- intl -dot- com
"If I go to sleep, the clowns will eat me."