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An hour or a hour?


kitkat0124
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I agree with the other posters.  It is "an" not "a".  This is one of those rare instances where you use "an" instead of "a" even though a vowel does not follow as the first letter of the next word.  I find it funny that Obama always says "a".  It's like he never learned the rules of English grammar.

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A/an is based on pronunciation, not appearance.

"An hour"

"An F"

"A Ouija board"

Careful with this- not always.  For example, a union. U sound, definitely vowel sound, but still a. Similarly a unicorn. But an owl.

Really, you have to read a lot and hear a lot of English to get a sense of when it's a and when it's an.  There is not a hard and fast rule regarding a/an.  Usually, contrary to the post I am quoting, you do go by whether a consonant or vowel comes after the a/an except for before ultrasound 'h' (i.e. hour, honest). This is the basic rule.  All else is exceptions.

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Careful with this- not always.  For example, a union. U sound, definitely vowel sound, but still a. Similarly a unicorn. But an owl.

I consider the "y" sound at the beginning of "union" and "unicorn" to qualify as a consonant sound. The letter "y" is a vowel in words like "myriad" and "syllable", but in words like "youth" and "yarn" it is not. You can't say "an union" because the pronunciation of letter "u" in those words sounds like "yu".

The rules on a/an are actually very direct, because it is all about flowing one word into the next. If it doesn't flow, then you're not saying it right. There's really no two ways about it, don't let the appearance fool you. It is about the sound.

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Careful with this- not always.  For example, a union. U sound, definitely vowel sound, but still a. Similarly a unicorn. But an owl.

It is spoken as if with a 'yu'. A consonant sound. Similarly, a 'yu'nicorn.

But as you said, one has to read and listen to the usage more to catch things like this.

For example, I had no clue that it was, 'a ouija board'.

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It is spoken as if with a 'yu'. A consonant sound. Similarly, a 'yu'nicorn.

But as you said, one has to read and listen to the usage more to catch things like this.

For example, I had no clue that it was, 'a ouija board'.

Yes, English has plenty of examples like this, of words that aren't pronounced the way they might seem to be. 

"Ouija" is pronounced "Wee-Gee."  Therefore, it's a consonant sound. 

The same is true for European.  You would say "a European tradition" because European begins with a consonant sound: "Yer."

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  • 4 weeks later...
Guest akasha24

The correct way of saying it is "an hour" instead "a hour". Usually the way to know how to use "a" or "an", is by looking at the first letter of the word that comes after "a" or "an". So for example: you don't say "a" apple, you say an apple because a is a vowel, usually if the first letter of the word is a vowel, then you use an. If the first letter is not a vowel, then you use "a", for example: a bat. Hope this helps clear the "a" and "an" question up! :)

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Yes, it's the 'sound vowel' not 'official vowel' that is what you need to pay attention to. Read it aloud if you have any doubts about a word :)

I agree that it is the sound that makes the definitive call as to whether to use "a" or "an".  I also saw the comment on President Obama and it is unfortunate when people so visible make mistakes.  I also cringed when George Bush used to pronounce "nuclear" as "nuke-you-lar".

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I agree that it is the sound that makes the definitive call as to whether to use "a" or "an".  I also saw the comment on President Obama and it is unfortunate when people so visible make mistakes.  I also cringed when George Bush used to pronounce "nuclear" as "nuke-you-lar".

Well as far as Bush goes, it was probably because of the Southern tinge in his accent. He's from Texas after all.

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Always an hour from what I know. As others do, I go by sound instead of the spelling itself. How about herb though? I'm using an with it because I don't pronounce the H although I've heard some people also use a herb. Not quite sure on this one.

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Always an hour from what I know. As others do, I go by sound instead of the spelling itself. How about herb though? I'm using an with it because I don't pronounce the H although I've heard some people also use a herb. Not quite sure on this one.

In the U.S. a majority of people pronounce "herb" without the "h."  In other parts of the English speaking world -- especially the UK -- it's usually pronounced with the "h."  Both forms are correct; the pronunciation is a regional difference. 

So according to how you pronounce the word, you would say "an herb" (silent "h") or "a herb" (pronounced "h").

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Since you are pronouncing the word with silent /h/ leaving you with /ah/ to begin the word with, we should be using "an". Same goes with the word honor. :)

Remember, it is not always the letters that we should check. We should also check the sounds or pronunciation. ;)

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Thanks, @LauraM. I'm actually having problems with British? English and American English. I think we're initially more exposed to American English here in the Philippines but I'm playing a roleplaying game that mostly uses the former.

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Careful with this- not always.  For example, a union. U sound, definitely vowel sound, but still a. Similarly a unicorn. But an owl.

Really, you have to read a lot and hear a lot of English to get a sense of when it's a and when it's an.  There is not a hard and fast rule regarding a/an.  Usually, contrary to the post I am quoting, you do go by whether a consonant or vowel comes after the a/an except for before ultrasound 'h' (i.e. hour, honest). This is the basic rule.  All else is exceptions.

The rule still holds. Neither union nor unicorn begins with a true 'U' sound, which would be pronounced 'Oooo' or "Eww." Rather it begins with the 'Y' consonant sound, as in 'You.'

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