In some class, I had in elementary we learned

I ate an apple.

I drove a car.

An only comes with apple everything other object takes A.

Later on, I found this on google.

He is an education instructor.

We were in first grade and he was trying to make it simple.

What I meant is at some age you learn something. Later on, you learn new things.

That makes that first thing you learned a bit incorrect.

Was the teacher tricking us??

  • 1
    Please look up the use of determiners in English: a/an. Thanks.
    – Lambie
    Nov 21, 2018 at 22:19
  • 3
    Your teacher actually said, 'An' is only before 'apple'? That's just so wrong it's bizarre. Either you misunderstood, or yes, your teacher was deliberately misleading you. This is very basic English grammar. See englishpage.com/articles/a-vs-an.htm
    – Andrew
    Nov 21, 2018 at 22:26
  • 2
    Perhaps apple was the only word in a particular list which would take "an". Nov 21, 2018 at 22:30
  • 5
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is based on obvious misinformation. At best, more explanation is necessary.
    – user3169
    Nov 21, 2018 at 23:46
  • 1
    related: when should I use a vs an
    – mcalex
    Nov 22, 2018 at 5:39

2 Answers 2


In English, we use a before words that sound like they begin with consonants.

We saw a book on the table.

There is a spider on your shoulder.

Some words begin with vowels, but when pronounced phonetically, sound like they start with a consonant:

The main character is a unicorn. (YOU-ni-corn)

The third number is a one. (WUHN)

We use an before words that sound like they begin with vowels.

I have an old clock in my living room.

An apple fell out of the tree.

Some words begin with consonants, but when pronounced phonetically, sound like they begin with vowels:

We only have an hour until the train comes. (OW-ur)

The second letter is an F. (EFF)

Was your teacher tricking you? Maybe. It depends on context. If the only word that you learned that used an was apple, then it isn't as bad, because they are trying to prevent confusion. If they stated that out of all words in the English language, the only word that used an was apple, that is definitely wrong and misleading.

  • For completeness, you might want to include the weird (not-silent) 'h' examples that get 'an' as discussed on the sister site.
    – mcalex
    Nov 22, 2018 at 5:41

an is used when the word which follows starts with a vowel sound, else a is used.

For example:

Since it's raining, I will need an umbrella; hopefully the rain will stop in an hour.

I thought I saw a unicorn, but I know it's an imaginary creature.

In the first example, notice that an is used even though hour starts with a consonant - this is because the pronunciation of the word hour starts with a vowel sound; similarly, in the second example, a precedes the word unicorn since the pronunciation of this word starts with a consonant sound.