What is the difference between 'a' and 'an'? — Gabby, United States
'A' and 'an' are both indefinite articles used before nouns or before adjectives that modify nouns. To determine if you should use 'a' or 'an' before a word, you need to listen to the sound the word begins with.
Use 'a' if the word begins with a consonant sound and use 'an' if the word begins with a vowel sound. Below are some examples.
an upside down picture
a perfect circle
It is important that you listen to the sound, and not only look at the letter. For example, 'unicorn' begins with /j/ (the y sound) so you should use 'a' before it. The word 'honor' begins with /ɑ/ so you should use 'an' before it. Below are some examples.
I drive a blue car
They have an old house.
They saw a cat in the alley.
They opened an arcade in the mall.
I bought a used car.
The name 'Matt' starts with an M.
She wore a unique dress to the party.
He was an honorable man.
He needed a USB charger.
My TV has an LCD screen.
Just remember: listen to the first sound of a word to determine if you should use 'a' or 'an' before it.
I hope this helps. For more posts about words, idioms, grammar, and usage, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!
Don't forget to subscribe to our Word of the Day e-mails!
Click here to try one of our vocabulary quizzes before you go!