• I'm not sure whether "Y" is a vowel but... If you take the word UNIVERSAL and break it up it would be: Yoo-nee-verr-salh Since the word UNIVERSAL pronouced,seems to start in Y, putting an A in front seems more appropiate than the AN. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - UMBRELLA sounds like : ummm-bree-lahh It starts with a U-like sound so the AN would seem right. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Gramatically "a universal" is incorrect. But heh. Take this for an example: TV commercials say it: an SUV. Guess no one cares.
  • I can't believe this is an actual question. If you ask me, this is rather trivial, not to mention rather personal. I might just turn homicidal over this whole thing. It certainly has me seeing magenta. However, I will try to stay rational. It would be a national tragedy if I did not. Even though I am a placental mammal. ;-) Just in case you didn't notice, there are some other words that end in "a" without having an "n" following it. So, "universal" isn't special. I am not sure where your teacher got that. However, even if there were such a rule, you should keep in mind that English is very bad about breaking spelling rules.
  • Whether you use a or an actually depends on the sound the beginning of the word makes and not the actual first letter itself. Most of the time the letter will match the sound but not always. Since "universal" begins with a y sound (you), which is not a vowel sound, it needs 'a' before it.
  • Because the letter "u" is pronounced "yu". The "Y" in this case is in its consonant form.
  • Doesn't that just tick you off? I got the same lesson and it was WRONG, or at least incomplete. The rule is how it sounds, so that includes vowels that sound like consonants (like universal) and consonants that sound like vowels, which... I cant think of any english examples, but a word like hors d'oeuvre (which sounds like 'or-durv')
  • It seems that the real rule is not that what is after the "a" should be a vowel, but that it must phonetically be a vowel. And this is not the case with "universal", because it sounds like "/j/universal" or "/y/universal": 1) "Usage notes (indefinite article, preposition): The word an is used before vowel sounds, and a before consonant sounds: a dog an egg an hour (the h is not pronounced) a hog (the h is pronounced) a yak (y is a consonant sound in this word) a user (has /j/ as its initial sound, which is a consonant) an umbrella (has /ÊŒ/ as its initial sound, which is a vowel) a woman (/w/ is a consonant) a one (has /w/ as its initial sound, which is a consonant) an onion (has /ÊŒ/ as its initial sound, which is a vowel) There is one occasional exception. The form an is sometimes used before h even when the h is pronounced. The usual example is an historic occasion. Though current in some dialects that pronounce the h, this is considered by many to be affected, pedantic or obsolete. One good test as to whether a speaker's dialect truly supports an before pronounced h as opposed to just being the typical an historic occasion affectation is whether such person would say I'm going to go on an hike right now. There would appear to be no linguistic or phonological reason to distinguish historical and hike in this manner." Source and further information: 2) "Further, some words starting with "u" (like "unique" or "user") have a preceding "a" because they are pronounced as if beginning with an initial "y" consonant." Source and further information: 3) however, it seems that either "universal" has various pronounciations (with or without starting consonant) or many people have learned the other rule (with real vowels, not phonetical ones). Let's ask Google: "Ergebnisse 1 - 10 von ungefähr 1.780.000 für "a universal"" Ergebnisse 1 - 10 von ungefähr 556.000 für "an universal" So about 23.8% write it with "an", quite a high proportion!
  • I seem to recall the rule that this was true on MOST vowels, but that "U" was different, and if it was a "long U" (Universal, Union, Use, etc.) then you don't change the "A" to an "An". If it's a short sound (unimaginable, ulterier, etc), change it to an "An".

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