I normally say "an herb" or "an honor", where the is commonly dropped. Before most words i would use "a" pronounced as the in "fun". I would not say "an husband" or "an house", a form of dropping i associate with some British speakers.
But while i will say "a history book", i would not naturally say "a historical event". I would not say "an history lesson" but i say "an historical account" or "an historian". If i ever did use "a" before "historian", etc., it would more likely be pronounced as in "day". I would also say "he gave me an hello" or "it was an horrific act". There may be others, but these are the few i think of off hand.

It isn't that the the is completely silent, although it may not be quite as pronounced. The common factor is that all the words i precede with "an" are accented on the second syllable. There's something about the flow of syllables that makes "an" feel natural. Also, i tend to write "an" if i would speak it.
This may not be consistent with other people's speech, i don't know. Does anyone else find this sort of variation in their own or others' speech ? Is there anything in your grammar books about this ? (I haven't much looked at grammar since about 9th grade. Warner is what we used.)
ER Lyon
 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 12
I normally say "an herb" or "an honor", where the is commonly dropped. Before most words i would ... or "it was an horrific act". There may be others, but these are the few i think of off hand.

, first paragraph.

Bob Lieblich
The FAQ is your friend
I normally say "an herb" or "an honor", where the ... but these are the few i think of off hand.

>, first paragraph.

Thanks. I've copied the applicable section below:
Formerly, "an" was usual before unaccented syllables beginning with "h" ("an historian", "an hotel"); these are "now obsolescent" in British English (Collins English Dictionary), although "an historian" is retained in more dialects than "an hotel".

I'm American. Am i obsolescent here too ? Are there any other obsolescents out there ?
ER Lyon
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Using an obsolescent usage doesn't make you yourself obsolescent. It makes you eccentric.

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
I normally say "an herb" or "an honor", where the ... but these are the few i think of off hand.

, first paragraph.

Does it mean that one can choose a/an depending on /their/ pronunciation of a word that admits two? I would never write/say "an herb" (the orrors!), but it should be OK for somebody that pronounces it "urb"?
, first paragraph.

Does it mean that one can choose a/an depending on /their/ pronunciation of a word that admits two? I would never write/say "an herb" (the orrors!), but it should be OK for somebody that pronounces it "urb"?

That's exactly what it means, yes.

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
, first paragraph.

Does it mean that one can choose a/an depending on /their/ pronunciation of a word that admits two? I would never write/say "an herb" (the orrors!), but it should be OK for somebody that pronounces it "urb"?

Yes.

Stephen
Lennox Head, Australia
I'm American. Am i obsolescent here too ? Are there any other obsolescents out there ? ER Lyon

Using an obsolescent usage doesn't make you yourself obsolescent. It makes you eccentric.

A little harsh! To qualify as eccentric, I'd say he'd have to use obsolete usages. Note that a few educated speakers still don't sound the "h" in "hotel": I try the "h" every now and then, but it still feels wrong on my own lips, though I don't even notice it from others. COD9, 1995, has the aspirated form as an alternative, but Penguin 1969 and Collins 2000 don't.
On "an+weak aspiration" for "historical", I seem to be at an inconsistent transitional stage. I feel sure I don't use it in writing.

Mike.
others. COD9, 1995, has the **aspirated** form as an alternative,but Penguin 1969 and Collins 2000 don't.

***Sorry! I meant "unaspirated".

Mike.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Show more