Articles with H words

Subject: Articles with H words
From: Beverly Parks <bparks -at- HUACHUCA-EMH1 -dot- ARMY -dot- MIL>
Date: Fri, 13 Jan 1995 08:41:38 MST

> Corinne Sandy wrote--
> Something caught my eye during this discussion. I read in some style guide
> a long time ago that "an" before a word beginning with "h" is not
> incorrect. An "a" should be used. The rationale is because,
> historically, h's were not pronounced . Instead of pronouncing "history"
> it used to be pronounced 'istory. And because of this, "an" was used.
> Now-a-days in English, it is pronounced history, so an is supposedly
> obsolete. Consequently, I write and say "a" before "h." The funny thing
> is, though, that I was tempted to write "an" when writing this e-mail
> anytime I was going to write "h." So, now I'm not sure. What do you
> think?

I just recently read about this in the NY Pub Lib WG to S&U:

"Is it 'an historic' or 'a historic"? Americans use *a* before
a consonant sound and *an* before a vowel sound, so 'a historic'
is correct."

They then go on to describe the dropped h sound in the 1700s and
1800s, as Corinne explained above. The paragraph ended with--

"Yet many speakers and writers today prefer the sound of *an*
before historic, which a usage note in 'The American Heritage
Dictionary,' third edition, calls 'a harmless adornment in
formal writing.'"

So there you have it: a harmless adornment. Let personal
preference rule.

=*= Beverly Parks =*= bparks -at- huachuca-emh1 -dot- army -dot- mil =*=
=*= "Unless otherwise stated, all comments are my own. =*=
=*= I am not representing my employer in any way." =*=


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