Consider the following sentences:

I am staying in a hotel nearby.

I am staying in an hotel nearby.

I know that both are correct. But I would like to know why? I do not see any proper reason for the second one as the 'h' is not silent as in French. So, what could be the reason?


Style guides are divided on 'a' vs 'an' before a silent 'h'.

The general rule would be to follow the pronunciation of the dialect you are writing for.

If your audience would drop the aitch when speaking, use 'an'.

  • Like I said, in all the various dialects that exist, 'h' isn't silent in hotel! (well maybe in a few, but not in the common ones, like British, American, Australian, Indian etc.) – Adil Ali Mar 18 '14 at 16:16
  • There absolutely are regional dialects that would pronounce hotel with a silent h. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – relaxing Mar 18 '14 at 16:19

In written English, I think it's always ...

I'm staying in a hotel nearby.

Nevertheless, in any dialect (not sure AmE or BrE), if the initial /h/ is pronounced as a vowel, it will be...

I'm staying in an hotel nearby.

  • I am sure of both being right, I have the 'Oxford A:Z of Grammar' book which says so. – Adil Ali Mar 18 '14 at 16:09
  • That is the problem. Hotel has a the 'h' pronounced both in American and British dialects. Then why does the book say that both are right? – Adil Ali Mar 18 '14 at 16:10
  • It's an old-fashioned rule. Some British dialects would say "an 'otel." – relaxing Mar 18 '14 at 16:16
  • Any reason for, as you say, 'dropping the h' ? – Adil Ali Mar 18 '14 at 16:25
  • Some commentary on the history of h-dropping: english.stackexchange.com/questions/23396/… – relaxing Mar 18 '14 at 16:35

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