I heard people pronounce the indefinite article "a" in two different ways. One is - what I consider the standard way - pronounced like the first letter of e.g. "accomplishment" (the phonetic symbol for this is an upside-down "e" but I can't type this here) and the other is pronounced like the first letter of the alphabet [ey].
However, the second pronounciation is not always used but only used in some cases. I could not figure out yet which these cases are.

Can you tell me about these two ways of pronouncing "a" and when they are used?

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I checked out this link after following the UK Genearal Election coverage yesterday and today on the BBC. Nearly everyone, politicians and commentatirs alike, is saying 'ey' all the time. I'd been wondering where this sprang from, and the Bush/Obama precedent looks like a promising explanation. Pity I find it so annoying!
the [ai] pronunciation is used in extended or emphatic speech
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It is hardly ever necessary to pronounce the indefinite article "a" as "ey". Correctly it should be as in "uh "boy, "uh" girl "uh" house etc. I believe the temptation to use the latter strategy stems from the varied pronunciation of the definite article "the". In using this word, the pronunciation is also dependent upon the initial letter of the subsequent word just as in the case of the indefinite article. If that first letter is a consonanat "uh" works fine, as does "thuh". If the first letter is a vowel, "uh" must become "an", and "the" gets pronounced "thee"
Thuh boy took a bite of "thee" apple This problem is solved differently in the case of the indefine article. "Uh boy took "uh" bite of "an" apple.

I have even heard the President refer to "Ey [sic] nother problem" as if "another" were actually two words. Mispronouncing "a" is common amongst others who should know better: namely some broadcast journalists.

Allan Needle
lets just say uh for simplicity and ey for emphasis.
I am not satisfied with the replies here. I think there is more to this. There is some underlying set of rules, I just can't seem to consciously figure it all out. I am sure it is not just "affectation". My parents and grandparents were not snobs.

It is used when it is the beginning of a title of a book, movie, play, poem or other work: A Midsummer Night's Dream; A Christmas Carol, etc.

Another situation in which it is used is when there is a grouping...or pseudo grouping of one, but "of" cannot be inserted: A dozen eggs; A pair more; A century ago; A whole lemon meringue pie; A single slice; A solitary rock peaked above the waves.;

I think it is more common in warnings or dangers when you are emphasizing the uniqueness of a situation or the adjective preceding the noun. And it is used as a mild expletive or subtle suggestion that one might easily have been inserted: This is quite a predicament! You are walking a very fine line buddy!; Watch yourself! There is a very big dog on Harold's farm.; A frightening wombat lunged at Vivian.; Keep your eyes open! There is a crack shot sniper that favors that hill.

There are other instances that I just can't seem to categorize: A once great nation (could be the grouping thing again, it could have something to do with showing reverence, it could have something to do with having two words modifying the noun, or it could have something to do with words having the "w" sound. This one may work very well because it fits by multiple rules); A Mrs. Reynolds called last evening. (Not something I would say, but it is not entirely uncommon).

I think I am nowhere close to really understanding this, but it is a bit more to, at least, look at. It may be possible to just use "uh", but I think we are weakening options by simply calling the use of "aye" an affectation.
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First I started noticing Pres. Obama saying "aye" instead of "uh" almost all the time. Then I noticed all the presidential candidates this year - 2015 - doing it. Then all newscasters, anchors and pundits. Then actors and actresses. Now everyone on television! This is beginning to drive me crazy. I was so happy to find this forum. I was starting to think someone had changed the English (American) language and I didn't get the memo! Nobody else seemed to be noticing it. Americans on TV also seem to have changed from the preferred pronunciations of "eether" for either and "neether" for neither, to the possibly British pronunciations, "eye-ther" and "nigh-their." Also, the preferred American pronunciation of "often" has been with the "t" silent, as "offen." It increasingly seems to be "off-ten." "The" used to be pronounced "thuh" before a word beginning with consonant and "thee" before a vowel but is changing into "thee" at all times. Did reality TV start this? I never really thought about the George W. Bush connection because he sounded, well, like a hick - will we all be sayIng "nuke-luh-ahr" instead of nuclear next? It sounds to me as if uneducated people are trying to sound educated, or as Trump would say, "classy!"
So true. Like fingernails down an old- fashioned blackboard. I notice that sportscasters seem overly-zealous in its use. so unnatural. Broadcasters are trained to write and speak conversationally, so it is very grating to hear such dysfluency in their speech.
Hillary also does it! Harsh
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I may be a fossil (46 y/o) but to my ear saying "uh" for "a" sounds slang. I believe that's why when you hear the politicians speak they avoid saying "uh".

And to be honest I do not think saying "uh" is correct. The word is "a".

Or another example is the alphabet itself. We don't say "uh" b c d e f g...

Same thing for "the" vs "thuh".

Or should I say "Duh"?
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