I was taught from an early age that when there is a consonant, regardless of phonics, one uses "a". If there is a vowel, one uses "an" before. This often flies in the face of the sound "a MP4," or "a NEWT".
How do you present this to a group of ten yo without using that dreaded-of-dreaded clichés, "Because: That's simply the way it is."?
Many humbled thanks,
The Ranger
1 2
I was taught from an early age that when there is a consonant, regardless of phonics, one uses "a". If ... of ten yo without using that dreaded-of-dreaded clichés, "Because: That's simply the way it is."? Many humbled thanks, The Ranger

A MP4 is wrong. MP4 is pronounced EM PEE Four.
An Emily Dickinson poem.........
An MP4........
JOE
I was taught from an early age that when there is a consonant, regardless of phonics, one uses "a". If there is a vowel, one uses "an" before. This often flies in the face of the sound "a MP4," or "a NEWT".

No, sir. It's "an" before a vowel sound (an MP3) and "a" before a consonant sound (a European).
(What've newts got to do with it?)
Adrian
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
I was taught from an early age that when there ... simply the way it is."? Many humbled thanks, The Ranger

A MP4 is wrong. MP4 is pronounced EM PEE Four. An Emily Dickinson poem.. An MP4.. JOE

An' an FBI agent... an honest one at that...
DC
I was taught from an early age that when there is a consonant, regardless of phonics, one uses "a". If there is a vowel, one uses "an" before. This often flies in the face of the sound "a MP4," or "a NEWT".

Were you? I'm guessing you're in the US, is that what's commonly taught to kids there? We were told (I'm a Brit), yes, put 'an' in front of letters, AEIOU, but I don't think the phonics issue - typically with letter names like M or F in initials, or words like 'European' or 'unique' that start with /j/ sounds - ever even occured to our teachers. I didn't click on it until I became an English language teacher myself, and I now teach that if the first phoneme of a word is a consonant sound, you use 'an', whatever the actual letter used to spell the word is.
DC
How do you present this to a group of ten yo without using that dreaded-of-dreaded clich=E9s, "Because: That's simply the way it is."?

Well, that's what I had to say to a group of adult learners this week, when they asked me why we say 'impatient' not 'unpatient', and told me 'unpatient' would be much better. But I also used my line about "I didn't invent this language, you know, I just have to teach it..." DC
Being unwrong all the time is just unpossible, I find!
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
I was taught from an early age that when there is a consonant, regardless of phonics, one uses "a". If ... present this to a group of ten yo without using that dreaded-of-dreaded clichés, "Because: That's simply the way it is."?

You were taught wrong.
It is before a vowel /sound/ that "an" is used, not indiscriminately before vowels.
Remember that the written language is simply a near-arbitrary graphical representation of sounds, so the letters we have in our written alphabet are not necessarily the perfect men for the job.
Well, that's what I had to say to a group ... language, you know, I just have to teach it..." DC

Being unwrong all the time is just unpossible, I find!

What good opportunity for prescriptive language codification is lost here, because English grammar follows usage, and not vice versa! In the Utopian universe where usage is prescribed, we could codify the "im-" and "un-" prefixes as both valid, but having different meanings. The "un-" would be used to describe "undone" states. Thus, "impatient" would be used to describe someone that has patience to begin with, while "unpatient" would be used for someone that had patience, but it's now ran out. "Unwrong" would be, of course, someone who is not wrong anymore. "Undead" has it right already.
Sorry if this has already been discussed. Emotion: wink

No, no, you can't e-mail me with the nono.
I was taught from an early age that when there ... the face of the sound "a MP4," or "a NEWT".

No, sir. It's "an" before a vowel sound (an MP3) and "a" before a consonant sound (a European). (What've newts got to do with it?)

Have I got newts for you?
DC
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Show more