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I remember being taught that the letter "h" was a consonant and there for should go with the indefinate article "a", and yet ever since President Bush's new speach writer started using the indefinate article "an" before "historic" (I suspect because the president drops the "h" when he speaks leaving the "i" sound as first) news media and everyone else is using it this way to. I write content for web sites so I'd like to know what the correct way is.
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Hi,

I'm sure this subject has been discussed extensively in some other thread, if you want to search a bit. I always say 'a historic ....'. I think 'an historic ...' is 'an horrible mistake'.

Best wishes, Clive
Opinion is divided about this. "A historic" and "An historic" are both acceptable. You can use "an" before words beginning with an aspirated 'h' when the first syllable is unstressed, so 'an horrific', 'an historian' and so on, although 'an hotel' is now archaic. Personally, I don't like it, it's one of those cases where the writer is trying too hard to seem educated, and probably think that it is more educated to write 'an historic' than 'a historic' just like those annoying people that pronounce 'white' and 'why' with an aspirated 'h'.
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AnonymousI remember being taught that the letter "h" was a consonant and there for should go with the indefinate article "a", and yet ever since President Bush's new speach writer started using the indefinate article "an" before "historic" (I suspect because the president drops the "h" when he speaks leaving the "i" sound as first) news media and everyone else is using it this way to. I write content for web sites so I'd like to know what the correct way is.
"h" is a consonant if it is pronounced; then 'a' is appropriate before it [a house]. My parlance is not to pronounce it in words such as 'hour', resulting in 'an" before it.
When I went to school in the Fifties, it was "an historic". I was taught "a historic" was poor English. So President Bush and his writers are correct and it has nothing to do with his "accent".
It is all about pronunciation; you must have been taught incorrectly in the '50s. Let's look at a primary source for what's right or wrong in English.

Quoting from the OED:
"There is still some divergence of opinion over the form of the indefinite article to use preceding certain words beginning with h- when the first syllable is unstressed: 'a historical document' or 'an historical document'; 'a hotel' or 'an hotel'. The form depends on whether the initial h is sounded or not: an was common in the 18th and 19th centuries, because the initial h was commonly not pronounced for these words. In standard modern English the norm is for the h to be pronounced in words like hotel and historical, and therefore, the indefinite article a is used; however, the older form, with the silent h and the indefinite article an, is still encountered, especially among older speakers."

There are rare cases in American English where the 'h' is silent, like the word 'honorary'. In that case, it would be appropriate to say 'I received an honorary degree.' But in most other cases, like historical and homeless, we would say, 'I gave charity to a homeless man today' or 'Digging a hole also builds a hill.' Saying these with 'an' instead of 'a' indicates how silly it sounds.

In most cases, like with the word 'historic,' we pronounce the 'h.'
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There are rare cases in American English where the 'h' is silent, (I agree) like the word 'honorary'. In that case, it would be appropriate to say 'I received an honorary degree.' But in most other cases, like historical and homeless, we would say, 'I gave charity to a homeless man today' or 'Digging a hole also builds a hill.' Saying these with 'an' instead of 'a' indicates how silly it sounds.

* He is an honest person -Silent H
* He is nearly an hour late- Silent H
* He is a holicopter polit - pronounced H
* She has a habit of losing her keys- pronounced H
Off topic: Goodman, didn't you set the avatar yet? You didn't manage to read private messages? You just need to click on the envelope, or from your profile click on "view all private messages" (at the bottom of the page).
Hi Kooyeen,
No! I still couldn't get the avitar to work after several attempts with different graphics. Thanks for you help. I could read the message now. I may get used to this new format but I find myself laboring with it!
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