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If the rule about the indefinite article is:

'a' is used before nouns starting with a consonant.

Why is 'an' used in the following sentence:

I want to work in an outstanding company.

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You need to deepen your understanding of this topic.

The underlying problem is that native speakers of English find it hard to pronounce two consecutive vowel sounds, .eg a egg, eg a economy. We resolve this difficulty by saying eg an egg eg an economy, because this is much easier to pronounce.


Now let's consider your example.

It's easy for me to say a company.

It's very hard for me to say a outstanding company. We resolve this difficulty by saying an outstanding company.This is much easier to pronounce.

In short, we say an in this case because the word (in this case an adjective) that follows starts with a vowel sound.


Finally, note that this topic relates to vowel sounds, not simply to vowels.

eg We say

a man

an ugly man (the word ugly starts with a vowel sound.)

a tool

a useful tool (the word useful stars with a vowel, but not with a vowel sound.)

Clive

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LionHeartIV'a' is used before nouns starting with a consonant.

Not quite correct.

"a" is used before words beginning with a consonant sound.
"an" is used before words beginning with a vowel sound.

What is the difference between a vowel sound and a consonant sound? Here is a chart of all the vowel sounds.

http://www.eslcharts.com/english-vowel-sounds-chart.html

And here are the consonant sounds:

http://www.eslcharts.com/english-consonant-sounds-chart.html





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LionHeartIV'a' is used before nouns words starting with a consonant.
(And 'an' is used before words starting with a vowel.)

"outstanding" doesn't start with a consonant. It starts with a vowel.


(As already mentioned above, "consonant" and "vowel" refer to consonant and vowel sounds, not letters, but this consideration is somewhat irrelevant in the present case because "outstanding" begins with a vowel letter and a vowel sound. There are relatively few cases where the letter and the sound differ in category, mostly involving the pronunciation of initial "u".)

CJ

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Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.

Excellent, thank you.!