GRAMMAR TIP: A vs. An

The indefinite articles ‘a’ and ‘an’ both mean the same thing. The definite article ‘the’ refers to a particular thing.

 

Example: Give me the ring! The wedding ring!

 

While ‘a’ and ‘an’ refer to any item of a certain type.

 

Example: Please hand me a nail, any nail.

 

But when do you use ‘a’ and when do you use ‘an’? For this tip, you may have to forget what you were previously taught in school. You don’t only use ‘an’ before any word that begins with a vowel. That would be too easy! You also use it before any word that sounds like it begins with a vowel. That’s why “an hour” is correct, not “a hour.” Even though ‘h’ is a consonant, in ‘hour’, it’s silent.

 

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