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Hello,

"A" or "An" . What is the correct article?

--history novel
--history professor
--historic moment
--historical novel
--history
--historical document
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Comments  
It's always 'a', since the 'h' of 'history' is pronounced.
Kilimanjaro
Hello,

"A" or "An" . What is the correct article?

--history novel
--history professor
--historic moment
--historical novel
--history
--historical document

In the past it is 'an history/historic ...' because the 'h' was not pronounced. Similarly, in the past it was

'an hotel', but nowadays 'a hotel'.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
a is correct for all. Nevertheless, there is an old practice, which has not yet completely died out, in which an is used in place of a if certain conditions are fulfilled. These are complex, involving the stress pattern of the h-word, the vowel which follows the h, and the part of speech. And not all accounts of these rules agree with one another. In general, only adjectives which begin with hi or hy in an unstressed syllable take an (not including cases where i or y is pronounced as a 'long i' as in five).

I believe that reduces the possibilities to only four. Rather than memorizing a great many rules, simply recognize that you will see the following four adjectives preceded by an on occasion -- when the writer is following older, more conservative practices.

historic(al), hysteric(al), Hispanic, and hypnotic

CJ
I believe the technical rule is whether or not the first syllable is stressed. In the words hypothesis and historical, the initial syllable is not stressed so it is common to see "an" used for both (but you will see "a" used frequently as well). This would imply that history would take an "a" since the first syllable is stressed, but the past is full of books titled "An History of..." (google "an history" and see for yourself). Although, this may have to do with how history is/was pronounced in the past or in different parts of the world. In parts of England, the H is silent (think of a British person saying, "ell, ow are you?"), so using an makes sense to such speakers.

In short, the A vs. An debate may simply reflect pronunciation differences between the US and England. Undoubtedly, you will run into strict grammarians who insist that an is more proper (especially in writing), especially amongst people with a penchant for thinking all things old (or British) are more correct. As an American, I can tell you that most people in the US would never use an when speaking and would tell you not to use it in writing either (regardless of whether or not such advice is technically correct).

If you are writing something to be published, let your editor and proofreader make the decision for you. If you are not writing to be published, write for your audience. I have no idea what the norm is in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.

But, as a final note, I will say that the Declaration of Independence uses "a history" and that is good enough for me.
my prof told me it was an history. end of story.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Hi,

my prof told me it was an history. end of story.
So, you'd better use 'an' when you speak to him, or write an essay for him.

Clive
Anonymousmy prof told me it was an history. end of story
Play along with him, all the while recognizing that profs are not infallible!

Emotion: smile
CJ
"A" is the correct article. Back when it was standard not to pronounce the H at the beginning of words, "an history" was correct due to the fact that the first sound is i.
Remember that the difference between a and an is not the first letter, but rather the first sound. Example: A universe, but an umbrella
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