The indefinite article is relatively easy to learn as there are but
three of them and their rules are easy enough to understand.
Problems can sometimes arise for those who don't clearly understand the 'exceptions
to the rules.'
And as the case seems to be with many rules, English articles also
have what we call, 'exceptions.'
Exceptions mean that sometimes the rules don't
apply and then there are new, or different, rules that apply for that
Don't worry, though, the rules and exceptions for the indefinite
article aren't that difficult to remember, and at the advanced level of the
English language they should require just a quick review
which just happens to follow...
Indefinite article: 'a, an'
These English articles are used beforesingular nouns. They specifically relate to
any member of a group.
Ex: A dog is in the
Difficulties and 'exceptions' with English Language articles...
Use 'an' instead of 'a' when it comes before a vowel soundNOT just before a
word that begins with a vowel.
Ex: We say; "It's an honor to meet you"NOT "It's a honor to
Why? Because the 'h' in honor is
Ex: We say; "My dad belongs to a union"NOT "My dad belongs to an union."
Why? Because 'union' is
pronounced (you nee un.)
'H' sounded or silent? -- plus -- where's the accent?
The 'h' can cause some problems if
you don't know the following. Words beginning with 'h' can be preceded by 'an' or 'a' depending on where the
accent in the word is...
Ex: I have a history lesson at 10:00am.
(first syllable in
Ex: It was an historic occasion. (second
syllable in historic accented)
OR... depending on whether the 'h' is silent or sounded.
Ex: An honor to meet you. (silent)
Ex: Is that a hypothetical question? (sounded)
Indefinite article with abbreviations
Acronyms and abbreviations can be problematic for those who don't know the above.
Depending on how the acronym is pronounced, it can be preceded by either a or an.
Ex: A CNC lathe. (pronounced see en see)
Ex: An MRI. (pronounced em ar eye)
Ex: A UNC basketball game. (pronounced you en see)