1

I've encountered this quite a few times now. I'm aware that usually words, starting with a vowel require an "an", words not starting with a vowel are preceded by an "a".

Sometimes words start with a consonant, but when spoken out loud, it sounds like a vowel, for instance an hour.

Is the use of "an" in this case correct due to the sound it would make when spoke out loud?

2

Here is the rule:

Use AN before words such as "hour" which sound like they start with a vowel even if the first letter is a consonant. Also use AN before letters and numbers which sound like they begin with a vowel, such as "F" or "8". Remember, it is the sound not the spelling which is important. For example, "F" is pronounced "eff" like it starts with an "E".

Examples:

I only have an hour for lunch. Sounds like "au-er".

Does his name begin with an "F"? Sounds like "eff"

Use A before words such as "European" or "university" which sound like they start with a consonant even if the first letter is a vowel. Also use A before letters and numbers which sound like they begin with a consonant, such as "U", "J", "1" or "9". Remember, it is the sound not the spelling which is important. For example, "1" is spelled O-N-E; however, it is pronounced "won" like it starts with a "W".

Examples:

She has a euro. Sounds like "yu-ro".

That number is a "1". Sounds like "won".

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    Which consonant "European" start sounds like? – Joao Arruda Apr 5 '16 at 14:55
  • @JoaoArruda "European" sounds like it starts with the consonant sound of a "y". – Catija Apr 5 '16 at 14:58
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    @JoaoArruda "Y", like "Your". (For added confusion, "Y" is sometimes a vowel... but not here.) – T.J.L. Apr 5 '16 at 14:58
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    There's a childish joke that it sounds like "Your a-peein'". – Justin Young Apr 5 '16 at 17:32
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    That should be "you're"...bad native speaker...shame on me. – Justin Young Apr 5 '16 at 22:59

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