a vs an : Common Errors in English

About a vs an

If the word following begins with a vowel sound, the word you want is “an”:“Have an apple, Adam.” If the word following begins with a consonant,but begins with a vowel sound, you still need “an”: “An X-ray will showwhether there's a worm in it.” It is nonstandard and often consideredsloppy speech to utter an “uh” sound in such cases.The same rule applies to initialisms like “NGO” (for “non-governmental organization”). Because the letter N is pronounced “en,” it’s “an NGO” but when the phrase is spoken instead of the abbreviation, it’s “a non-governmental organization.” When the following word definitely begins with a consonant sound, youneed “a”: “A snake told me apples enhance mental abilities.”Note that the letter Y can be either a vowel or a consonant. Although it is sounded as a vowel in words like “pretty,” at the beginning of words it is usually sounded as a consonant, as in “a yolk.”Words beginning with the letter U which start with a Y consonant sound like “university” and “utensil” also take an “a”: “a university” and “a utensil.” But when an initial U has a vowel sound, the word is preceded by “an”: it’s “an umpire,” “an umbrella,” and “an understanding.”See also “.”

a Meaning(s)

  • (n) a metric unit of length equal to one ten billionth of a meter (or 0.0001 micron); used to specify wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation
  • (n) any of several fat-soluble vitamins essential for normal vision; prevents night blindness or inflammation or dryness of the eyes
  • (n) one of the four nucleotides used in building DNA; all four nucleotides have a common phosphate group and a sugar (ribose)
  • (n) (biochemistry) purine base found in DNA and RNA; pairs with thymine in DNA and with uracil in RNA
  • (n) the basic unit of electric current adopted under the Systeme International d'Unites
  • (n) the 1st letter of the Roman alphabet
  • (n) the blood group whose red cells carry the A antigen

an Meaning(s)

  • (n) an associate degree in nursing

a in News

  1. ‘Pieta’: a bone-breaking, gut-wrenching Korean drama

    A movie review of “Pieta,” Kim Ki-duk’s occasionally stomach-churning tale of a loan shark’s brutal enforcer who encounters a woman claiming to be the long-lost mother who’d abandoned him as an infant.
    on June 14, 2013 Source: Seattle Times

  2. A glance at the history of Nicaragua canal plans

    For hundreds of years, explorers and governments have dreamed of a waterway linking the Atlantic and Pacific. Proposed routes have ranged from Mexico to Colombia, but many have focused on Nicaragua. A few key moments:
    on June 14, 2013 Source: Seattle Times

  3. A look at Iran's voters and election process

    A look at Iran's voters, presidents and election procedures:
    on June 13, 2013 Source: Associated Press via Yahoo! News

an in News

  1. Loblaw Companies Limited to Host an Investor Teach-In Event Focused on the Presentation of its Financial Results ...

    Loblaw Companies Limited to Host an Investor Teach-In Event Focused on the Presentation of its Financial Results Following the Inclusion of Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust
    on June 14, 2013 Source: CNW Group via Yahoo! Finance

  2. Heroin: ‘An Epidemic’ In The Wealthiest Suburbs

    Oakland County has issued an alert following a recent rise in heroin overdoses in the state — including in some of metro Detroit's most affluent neighborhoods.
    on June 13, 2013 Source: CBS Detroit

  3. An overview of the 2013 Best of the Capital Region section

    An overview of the 2013 Best of the Capital Region section Times Union Copyright 2013 Times Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Updated 7:06 am, Thursday, June 13, 2013 The heart of this section are the first-, second- and third-place finishers based on the votes in 75 categories from nearly 12,500 readers like you. The voting ...
    on June 13, 2013 Source: Albany Times Union

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