Examine the following sentence:
He used (strange) idiom.
Which indefinite article would you use to fill the blank, "a" or "an"?

I would be particularly appreciative if anyone could direct me to a reputable source of the answer.
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Examine the following sentence: He used (strange) idiom. Which indefinite article would you use to fill the blank, "a" or "an"? I would be particularly appreciative if anyone could direct me to a reputable source of the answer.

The parentheses have no bearing on the
rules governing the choice of "a" or "an".
These are all correct:
An idiom.
A strange idiom.
An unusual idiom.
An (unusual) idiom.
A (strange) idiom.
The problem is, it's difficult to justify
the parentheses. Was it strange or wasn't it?

Michael West
Melbourne, Australia
A (strange) idiom. The problem is, it's difficult to justify the parentheses. Was it strange or wasn't it?

I would read it as an informal usage to mean "An idiom (a strange one, but that has nothing to do with what I'm talking about)."

-Chris
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
I can't find anything specific about this in reference books, perhaps because the obvious solution is to redraft.
To answer your question as it stands: in principle, I'd say this is better written as "a (strange) idiom" because the choice of "a" or "an" depends on the firsat letter of the following word, and "idiom" is no longer the following word. It's true that syntax should stay intact outside parentheses, but this is a question of sound, not syntax . If you were reading the "an" version aloud, you'd sound a twerp.
Peasemarch.
Examine the following sentence: He used (strange) ... could direct me to a reputable source of the answer.

The parentheses have no bearing on the rules governing the choice of "a" or "an". These are all correct: An ... (unusual) idiom. A (strange) idiom. The problem is, it's difficult to justify the parentheses. Was it strange or wasn't it?

Another one of those strange questions we get from people whose apparent level of attainment in English suggests that they should know the answer already. I've often wondered what's going on. Does any more recent EFL teacher have any light to throw?
Mike.
Examine the following sentence: He used (strange) idiom. Which indefinite article would you use to fill the blank, "a" or "an"? I would be particularly appreciative if anyone could direct me to a reputable source of the answer.

The "rule" is that you write it the way you say it. You say "a" here, so you write "a" here.
Next!
Adrian
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Another one of those strange questions we get from people whose apparent level of attainment in English suggests that they should know the answer already. I've often wondered what's going on. Does any more recent EFL teacher have any light to throw? Mike.

EFL teachers won't help; I'm a native speaker.
The issue came up because I was correcting someone's grammar who was correcting someone else's grammar, so my grammar was carefully scrutinized for any possible mistakes. One person staunchly believed that all parenthetical phrases should be excisable, and thus that the article should be chosen without consideration of the parenthetical word. I thought he was wrong, but could find no proof and wanted to entertain the possibility that he was correct. This newsgroup seems to me one of the best places to get an answer to settle such a dispute.
(snip)
Another one of those strange questions we get from people whose apparent level of attainment in English suggests that they should know the answer already.

Should != do
I'm English, and I didn't know the answer. (I did, however, guess right.)
I've often wondered what's going on.

Lot's of stupid people around?
Another one of those strange questions we get from people ... more recent EFL teacher have any light to throw? Mike.

EFL teachers won't help; I'm a native speaker. The issue came up because I was correcting someone's grammar who was ... correct. This newsgroup seems to me one of the best places to get an answer to settle such a dispute.

I'm afraid I can't direct you to a reputable source.

Of the eight posts I see in this thread at the time of writing, none has enunciated what I consider to be the true principle. The true principle is that such constructions are illogical unless they are correct both with and without the parenthetical material..g
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