a vs an :

a or 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”:

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  • 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
    a typical household circuit carries 15 to 50 amps
  • n  the 1st letter of the Roman alphabet
  • n  the blood group whose red cells carry the A antigen

  • n  an associate degree in nursing
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