Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Editing Ninja: An Abusive A

Does any word misuse cause more consternation than the simple flipping of articles a and an? The rule is simple: a comes before words beginning with a consonant or consonant sound; an comes before words beginning with a vowel or vowel sound.

Incorrect: Dakota ate a orange. 

Correct: Dakota ate an orange.

Incorrect: Gregory became an zombie.

Correct: Gregory became a zombie.

Poor Gregory. 

Some notes:

The vowel u often makes a consonant sound (yew) at the beginning of words such as university and unified. Therefore, a must proceed these words even though they start with a vowel.

Be aware of words which begin with silent letters, such as the h in herb or heir. Since the initial sound is a vowel, you must use an.

The sound wins every time. Yet another reason you should read your work aloud in the revision phase. 

1 comment:

Anthony Rapino said...

Yeah, this is one of the few rules I still trust to my ear. :-)