ANSWERS: 6
  • The addition of the letter "n" after the a in the definite article allows fluent pronunciation -- two vowel sounds in a row is hard to pronounce. When H is pronouced with the blowing (such as in the word "hay"), it is preceded by the A only as the vowel is followed by a consonantal H ("I sold him a hay stack.") When H is silent, and is followed by a vowel sound, an "A" before would create two running vowel sounds, thus the N must be added ("I'll be there in AN HOUR.") The presence of the H is immaterial as it does not influence pronunciation.
  • "An historic moment" is incorrect because the "h" in historic is proununced. The answer is that the use of a vs an has to do more with the pronunciation of the word than the letters that begin it. For example, "an hour," "a unicorn." Since the "h" in hour is unpronounced, it is preceded by "an"; since the word "unicorn" is begun by a consonant y-sound, it is preceded by "a."
  • I fully agree that "an historic moment" is incorrect, unless you're a cockney who pronounces 'historic' without the 'h', in which case it would be correct. So I guess it's accent dependent. Annoyingly every BBC presenter & writer insists on using this annoying error every time they have a opportunity. (that was not an mistake. See - it really is annoying!)
  • I guess the questioner was meaning 'preceeded by' rather than 'followed by'? I fully agree that "an historic moment" is incorrect, unless you're a cockney who pronounces 'historic' without the 'h', in which case it would be correct. So I guess it's accent dependent. Annoyingly every BBC presenter & writer insists on using this annoying error every time they have a opportunity. (that was not an mistake. See - it really is annoying!)
  • There are certain words in the English language that 'break rules' as in all languages. The 'h' sound is often dropped deliberately, though you would need to be extremely conversant with the nuances of the language to know when (and with whom) to drop your aitches!
  • Because the rule applies to the beginning sound, not the letter. Silent Hs are easy enough to comprehend - an honor -vs. a horse. But even a soft H (an H-sound pronounced before an unstressed vowel, followed by a second syllable that is stressed) requires "an": an historian vs. a histrionic. The reason behind all of them is the same: you use "an" instead of "a" when it sounds better.

Copyright 2020, Wired Ivy, LLC

Answerbag | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy