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a vs an

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a vs an

Postby noisyturtle » Sun 12.02.2007 10:28 pm

So I know that this doesn't have anything to do with Japanese but I figured since many people on this site like to discuss/argue about grammar I would ask anyway.

Obviously you use "an" before words beginning with vowels and "a" before consonants, I know that. My question is what do you use before single letters like "r" as in "r value". I typed a but that doesn't sound right and an sounds better. I just did a quick search on Google and I found out that there are some exception like "a unicorn" and "an herb" but nothing pertaining to my question.

Any help?
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RE: a vs an

Postby hungryhotei » Sun 12.02.2007 10:32 pm

I think you generally use 'an' not before words beginning with a vowel, but words beginning with a vowel sound. Since 'r' is pronounced somewhat like 'ar' I think I would use 'an'.
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RE: a vs an

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 12.02.2007 10:42 pm

Right -- with letters and acronyms it's off the pronunciation. So it's "an FBI agent" but "a FAFSA application".
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RE: a vs an

Postby chikara » Sun 12.02.2007 10:43 pm

noisyturtle wrote:
So I know that this doesn't have anything to do with Japanese but I figured since many people on this site like to discuss/argue about grammar I would ask anyway.

Obviously you use "an" before words beginning with vowels and "a" before consonants, I know that. My question is what do you use before single letters like "r" as in "r value". I typed a but that doesn't sound right and an sounds better. I just did a quick search on Google and I found out that there are some exception like "a unicorn" and "an herb" but nothing pertaining to my question.

Any help?

hungryhotei is correct.

As said above the letter "r" on its own is pronounced "ar" so "an r value" is correct. When a word starts with the letter "r" it is pronounced as a consonant so "a rabbit, a rat and a rubber ball" is the correct usage.

The "u" in "unicorn" is prononced "yu" so it is peceded by "a" not "an".

"an herb" is correct in USA English but "a herb" is correct in most other English speaking countries. In USA English the "h" in "herb" is silent unless it is a shortening of the name "Herbert".
Last edited by chikara on Sun 12.02.2007 11:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: a vs an

Postby Wakannai » Sun 12.02.2007 10:45 pm

unicorn is prounced you-knee-corn, so it gets an a because it starts with a consonant sound.

Abbreviations are also based on the way it is pronounced not the specific letters.

Just fyi, the 英語の練習 forum is a better place for questions like this.
Last edited by Wakannai on Mon 12.03.2007 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: a vs an

Postby noisyturtle » Sun 12.02.2007 10:58 pm

Wakannai wrote:
Just fyi, the 英語の練習 forum is a better place for questions like this.

I had no idea that the 英語の練習 forum was for learning English (until I looked it up of course)
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RE: a vs an

Postby Harisenbon » Mon 12.03.2007 3:23 am

Wakannai wrote:
unicorn is prounced you-knee-corn, so it gets an, an because it starts with a consonant sound.


Don't you mean "it gets an A because it starts with a consonate sound?"
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RE: a vs an

Postby Wakannai » Mon 12.03.2007 4:19 pm

Gah!
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