Dear friends,

How are you all? Emotion: smile

I've searched for something related to this question of mine before posting this, but I really didn't find anything. Maybe I haven't searched the right way, if so I'm sorry.

Well, my question is...

Which is the correct grammatical form to write (pronounce) the following example?

1) Mark the right answer with an "X".


2) Mark the right answer with a "X".

The sound of the letter "X" induces us to use AN before it, however it's just a letter, not a word, and it's a consonant. So, what do we have to use in such cases? A or AN?

Same to other letters: F, H, L, M, etc...

I appreciate your attention, guys.


It is the sound that is of the essence, not the spelling, Bruno. Thus:

an X, an F, an H, an L, and an N, but a U, a Y and a W;
a NATO meeting (it is an acronym pronounced as a word);
a UFO (the three letters are pronounced separately);
an NCO (the three letters are again pronounced separately).
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Mister Micawber,

Thank you very much for your explanation. Emotion: smile


This one is fairly easy. It depends upon what you are pronouncing, not whether its a consonant or a vowel. If, for example, you want to say the letter 'f' as in the term FAA, you would pronounce it as though it were spelled "eff". Therefore, you would use 'an' in front of it. However, it is was your intention that the term FAA be read and pronounced Federal Aviation Administration, then you would use an 'a' because the F is pronounced as a hard consonant. The rule should be written, "If the following letter is pronounced as a hard consonant then 'a' is used. If the next letter is pronounced as itself and the written pronounciation of the letter starts with a vowel, then 'an' is used." Remember, its all about the phonetic pronounciation of the letter, not the letter itself.