RE: a vs. an

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' Design & Development
billdb -at- intl -dot- com
"If I go to sleep, the clowns will eat me."

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