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The previous thread about the right article before 'hour' got me wondering about 'ear'. While I know that 'a' and 'an' are placed as per the pronunciation of the word that follows, I cant be too sure about this one. Do we say (y)ear or (e)ear. In the first case it would be, a ear, while in the second case it would be an ear.

I've heard of the sentence "Lend me an ear".

Yet, I've always thought that we say "She's wearing a earring on each ear."

Can someone explain this?

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I believe the confusion with the article before "ear" comes from the verb "to hear" that are both involved with perceiving the sounds.

Ear starts with a silent vowel, hence "an" here, but in the case of "hear" the initial consonant sounds like one (not silent like in many Spanish and German words) hence "a" would fit before "hear" and derivative words.

In example, "getting a hearing aid that looks fashionable with make an ear look great!"

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I believe the rule for using "an" versus "a" is that you use "an" when it precedes a vowel sound, even when the word starts with "h." So it would be "an hour" because you don't pronounce the h sound in hour but you instead hear the vowel sound made by the o and u. There are a few words starting with h that go against this rule, as there are exceptions to every rule in English! For example, "an hypothesis" instead of "a hypothesis." When words start with y, y typically does not have a vowel sound, so using "a" would be correct. English is my native language, so I can't speak for someone who knows English as a second language, but it seems to me that you can normally tell which is the correct article to use from how it sounds. The words flow together better when you use the right article, including when saying "an ear" as opposed to "a ear."

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I believe the rule for using "an" versus "a" is that you use "an" when it precedes a vowel sound, even when the word starts with "h." So it would be "an hour" because you don't pronounce the h sound in hour but you instead hear the vowel sound made by the o and u. There are a few words starting with h that go against this rule, as there are exceptions to every rule in English! For example, "an hypothesis" instead of "a hypothesis." When words start with y, y typically does not have a vowel sound, so using "a" would be correct. English is my native language, so I can't speak for someone who knows English as a second language, but it seems to me that you can normally tell which is the correct article to use from how it sounds. The words flow together better when you use the right article, including when saying "an ear" as opposed to "a ear."

Yes, you are correct.  The rules are according to how the word is pronounced. 

Any vowel sound -- regardless of spelling -- will use "an" as in "an FYI."  (The "F" is pronounced as "Eff.')

A vowel pronounced like a consonant will use "a" as in "a unanimous decision."  (The "U" has a "Y" sound.)

As Eudora13 mentioned, there was a detailed discussion about "a" and "an" which began with the a question about "hour" -- which should be "an hour."  You might want to check that thread out, too, as there were many good examples. 

http://linguaholic.com/english-language-general-discussion-thread/an-hour-or-a-hour/

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A vs AN.  "A" is use in the beginning of a consonant and "AN" for vowels.

There's an exception, in  words with silent H like Hour, Honorable "an" is use. For the words that start in U, but read as You, like Unicorn "A" is use.

I will see you in AN hour.

I want to see A unicorn.

for the word EAR, it's right to say AN ear.

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  • 2 weeks later...

When thinking about which article to use whether "a" or "an" one must never focus on the spelling but on the sounds of the word, as some words may start with a vowel but is pronounced differently. Vowel sounding words are used with "an" and constants sounding words are taken with "a".

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  • 1 month later...

As a rule "a" is used if it's followed by a consonant, like "a bag". While "an" is used when it is followed by a vowel, like "an ear".

Nope. a is followed by a 'consonant sound' and an is followed by a 'vowel sound'. That is the exact way this rule works.

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The basic rule is to use an for words beginning with a vowel. An hour is an exception since the "h" is pronounced silently. We use "a" for words beginning with a consonant.

I honestly never knew there was a rule. I kind of just felt my way through it my whole life. As a native english speaker, you can usually tell what sounds right and what sounds wrong. That is just me though. Thanks for the info!

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We say "ear", not "year".  The correct article is "an" -- we say "an ear".

We also say "an earring", not "a earring".  There might be some informal dialects that use "a", but in "correct" standard English, "an" is the proper article.

I agree with my friend here. The vowels "a" "e" "i" "o" "u" are always preceded (come before) by the word "an". Also, in English we must also bear in mind that there are some exceptions to the rule, and in some of such cases we have to work with what sounds proper. How do we know what sounds proper? We continue reading well-written novels and text books.

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