Grammar Essentials – Articles Part 1 – A/An
Both A and An are Indefinite Articles. Like I said in our Introductory Articles tutorial, “An” is used with vowels (a,e,i,o,u) and “A” is used with consonants. We’ll now look at this in detail. We also have exceptions to this rule that we’ll see in just a minute.
By definition we use
An: To refer to “any” singular countable noun starting with vowel.
A: To refer to “any” singular countable noun starting with consonant.
Exception: If the pronunciation of the noun is different than the starting letter.
Now lets understand the usage with examples. PLEASE NOTE: We’ll also focus on how nouns are pronounced in examples below.
To those who understand Hindi, you may learn like this.
Those words that sound starting like अ, आ, इ, ई, उ, ऊ, ए, ऐ, ओ, औ, अं, अः are used with ‘An’.
Rest all are used with ‘A’.
Examples of ‘A’
- He is a doctor //pronounced as dɒktər// डाक्टऱ
- There are a hundred employees in the company //pronounced as hʌndrɪd// हन्डैृद
- The company has a CEO //pronounced as si-ee-oo// सी ई ओ
PLEASE NOTE: In the above examples, the pronunciation starts as consonants. Now lets see some exceptions
- He studies in a university //pronounced as yunəˈvɜrsɪti// यू निवरसीटी
- He is on a one-hour break //pronounced as wʌn// वन आवऱ
In the first example, we are talking about university. Even though university starts with ‘U’, the word is pronounced as //you-ni-ver-si-ti//. Notice how the prononciation starts with ‘Y’ or ‘यू’
In the second example, we are talking about one-hour. The word starts with ‘O’ but the pronunciation is //wan// . Notice how pronunciation starts with ‘W’ which is a consonant (or ‘व‘).
Examples of ‘An’
- Here, have an apple //pronounced as ऐपल
- We have an eight-hundred employee company //pronounced as eɪt// ऐट
- Do you have an e-mail address //pronounced as ee-mʌl// ई-मेल
PLEASE NOTE: In the above examples, the pronunciation starts as vowels. Now lets see some exceptions
- He is an NIA agent // pronounced as ɛn-ɪ-e// ऐऩ-आई-ऐ
- Amit is an MP //pronounced as em-pi// ऐम-पी
- It’s an 1800 toll free number //pronounced as eɪ-tii-n// ऐट्टीन
- He’s an hour late. //pronounced as aʊə(r)//आऱ
Notice how NIA, MP, and 1800 all starts with consonants and even digits, but are used with ‘An’ as their pronunciation starts like vowels (or ऐ/आ in above examples).
Another point to be noted. The abbreviation of a word might be associated to a different article than the original one. For example
- Amit is an MP //ऐम-पी
- Amit is a Member of Parliament. //मेम्बऱ आफ पाऱलियामेन्ट
If you still have any doubts, please post on the comments section below.