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View Full Version : "A" vs "An" ....grammar trivia



Catty1
07-13-2008, 02:06 PM
OK, I have seen two posters use this, one repeatedly...

Just information, that's all...

"A" is used before a word that starts with a consonant/hard sound, eg, "A dog", "A cat". "A house".

"An" is used before a word that starts with a vowel/vowel sound, eg, "An error", "An inkling", "An opportunity".

That's all.:cool:

RICHARD
07-13-2008, 02:10 PM
Aha!

There's a answer to everything?:confused:;)

Freedom
07-13-2008, 02:12 PM
FYI, we were taught to also use "an" for a word starting with an "h" which is silent.

So it would be an hour, not a hour.

But a house is correct, because you pronounce the 'h.'

Taz_Zoee
07-13-2008, 02:16 PM
Just the other day I was sending an email to my co-workers saying I had an/a UBOC envelope. When using just letters which one would it be? Saying it outloud it sounds better to say "a" UBOC, but is that correct??

Ginger's Mom
07-13-2008, 02:38 PM
Ooh Cindy, good thought. For example anything that begins with a "u" that is pronounced like the letter "U" I would use "a." For example, "a united front," "a picture of a unicorn." But if it sounds like "uh", I would say "an." For example: "an umbrella," "an unexpected surprise," and so on.

Suki Wingy
07-13-2008, 02:48 PM
I am reminded of a Monty Python sketch. :)
"He is an Halibut."

Catty1
07-13-2008, 03:02 PM
It does depend on the sound of the word, which is why I added 'vowel sound' or a 'hard sound'.

UNBC - that starts with a "y" sound, so "a" is correct. ("y" is a vowel only "sometimes" - remember memorizing the vowels in the early grades? :D)

And "hour" does start without the H sound, so "an" goes with that.

LOL - I remember "An Halibut". Eric the Half-A-Bee! (Half-An-Bee???:) )

Miss Z
07-13-2008, 03:37 PM
THANK YOU for posting this! It annoys me when I see this mistake made continually. Surely it sounds un-natural to say to yourself in your head as you type, for example, 'an dog' or 'a argument'? :confused:

lizbud
07-13-2008, 04:35 PM
I am reminded of a Monty Python sketch. :)
"He is an Halibut."



:D

Taz_Zoee
07-13-2008, 04:41 PM
Ooh Cindy, good thought. For example anything that begins with a "u" that is pronounced like the letter "U" I would use "a." For example, "a united front," "a picture of a unicorn." But if it sounds like "uh", I would say "an." For example: "an umbrella," "an unexpected surprise," and so on.

Exactly!! LOL :D


It does depend on the sound of the word, which is why I added 'vowel sound' or a 'hard sound'.

UNBC - that starts with a "y" sound, so "a" is correct. ("y" is a vowel only "sometimes" - remember memorizing the vowels in the early grades? :D)

And "hour" does start without the H sound, so "an" goes with that.

LOL - I remember "An Halibut". Eric the Half-A-Bee! (Half-An-Bee???:) )

That's what I thought. Thanks Candace. :)

Suki Wingy
07-13-2008, 05:13 PM
Another one that drives me crazy is a lot and alot or even allot.

A lot: a considerable quantity or extent

Allot: to assign as a share or portion, or to distribute by or as if by lot

and don't even get me started on the apostrophes! :rolleyes:

RedHedd
07-13-2008, 07:29 PM
Thank you!

Another one is "noone" NO SUCH WORD, PEOPLE! :mad: It's two words - No one. Thank you. Rant over :p

jesse_3
07-13-2008, 07:54 PM
What about there, their, and they're!?! I see those misused all the time! I know how to use them correctly, but to explain it?

jenn_librarian
07-13-2008, 09:02 PM
There is used in regards to a place. "We went there too!"

Their is possessive. "The dog is theirs." "This is their dog."

They're is a contraction of They and Are. "They're our relatives."

jenn_librarian
07-13-2008, 09:07 PM
How about the one I see used incorrectly all the time, which really irks the crap out of me.

Use "I" and "Me" correctly in a sentence.

I see people use "I" incorrectly all the time, because I think they think it sounds or looks like the proper way to say/write it.

If you can say "I" in the sentence without the other person being in it, and it still makes sense, then you're using "I" correctly.

My mother and I went to see the concert. I went to see the concert.

This is a picture of my mother and me. This is a picture of me.

jenn_librarian
07-13-2008, 09:09 PM
I am horrible about commas (too many or not enough). Anyone have rules about using them?

Moesha
07-13-2008, 09:17 PM
Here's one comma rule. If a conjunction is connecting two complete sentences, use a comma. If the phrases before or after the conjunction are not complete sentences, then you don't use a comma.

I wish that you could have gone to the movies with me, but I understand that you were sick.

The students couldn't believe how fast the summer passed and that they would be returning to school shortly.

jenn_librarian
07-13-2008, 09:20 PM
What comes before and after the comma has to be a complete thought, is that what you're saying? (Did I do that right?! :p )

Moesha
07-13-2008, 09:26 PM
Actually, if it is two complete sentences, then I think they are connected by a semi-colon. A comma is used if they are connected with a conjunction. (and, but, so) I'm only going on memory with that though. It has been a very long time since I had English classes.

Catty1
07-13-2008, 10:35 PM
Yeah, I'M sorry you asked too! :D (JK)

http://www.libraryonline.com/default.asp?pID=33
Comma Punctuation in Writing

COMMA:
Commas are used to separate thoughts within a sentence allowing the reader to mentally pause and assimilate the full meaning of the sentence. The misuse of commas can alter the entire meaning of sentences.

The comma is used

a) To set apart words in apposition. Appositives are words that identify or define other words.
Example:

Mr. Smith, our manager, will be there.

* Do not separate compound personal pronouns from the words they emphasize.
Example:

Jane herself will take on that project.

b) To set apart titles written after a person’s name.
Example:

John Smith, Ph.D. is the professor taking over that area.

* A comma may or may not be used before and after Jr. and Sr. following a name
Examples:

- John Smith, Jr., will be the successor to his father’s corporation.
- John Smith Jr. will be the successor to his father’s corporation.

* Omit periods and commas before and after II, III, and IV with names

c) When setting apart the year from the month and the day in a sentence.
Example:

We’ve had to reschedule the fundraising event, which will now be held on June 15, 2006

d) To separate successive nouns and adjectives in a sentence.
Examples:

- Please don’t forget to bring pens, pencils, paper, and envelopes.
- We’re going to need balls, helmets, markers, etc., for the tournament.

* A comma is used before the final ‘and’ in a list of three or more items

e) To introduce spoken words.
Example:

Mr. Smith said, “Do not charge service fees on the Dawson account.”



f) After the salutation and complimentary close of a personal or informal business letter.
Example:

Dear John, Best regards,

g) To coordinate adjectives as qualifying words preceding a noun.
Example:

We want it to be a clear, simplified, informative presentation.


* Don’t use a comma between two adjectives preceding a noun if the adjectives are too closely related to be separated:
Examples:

- It’s an attractive quaint little motel along the shore.
- The reasonable additional cost for this perk is acceptable.

h) To separate the name of a person that is addressed from the rest of the sentence.
Example:

We welcome you, Jane, as the newest addition to our team.

i) To set off a contrasted word, phrase or clause.
Example:

A better way to get cooperation from your team members is by asking, not telling.

j) To set off a transitional word or expression when a pause is needed for clearness or emphasis.
Examples:

- Therefore, this matter must be dealt with as quickly as possible.
- Indeed, it was a success.
- As was intended, the focus turned to costs.

* Do not use a comma when such words, phrases and clauses do not interrupt the thought or required punctuation for clearness.
Examples:

- The board therefore voted unanimously in favor of the acquisition.
- It is indeed surprising that that they lost the contract.
- That decision in this case was expected.

k) To follow words such as yes, no, well when one of these words is at the beginning of a sentence.
Examples:

- Yes, we expect him to arrive this week.
- Well, this is the case so we must implement plans to offset the losses.

Catty1
07-13-2008, 10:38 PM
This link provides sections on all kinds of punctuation uses. Check it out!

http://www.libraryonline.com/default.asp?pID=29

ALSO, a hilarious book on this topic is "Eats Shoots and Leaves" by Lynn Truss. She is a professional writer, and her views on commas AND apostrophes are classic. There are neat bits of trivia also. For example: Do you know where the question mark came from?

Your local library or bookstore should have it.:)

Randi
07-14-2008, 05:33 AM
I was going through some stuff of John's and came across an old article from Mac World that explains about the various signs on the keyboard and how to use them right. It seems that most of us are using " for quotation marks, but that is wrong. This is used for inch! A quotation mark is: ” “
Graphic Designers often use the French one » « for aestaetic? reasons.

However, on a Forum like this, I don't really care which is used, but it's nice to know, in case you need it professionally.

sasvermont
07-14-2008, 06:35 AM
Many jobs ago, a gentleman I worked for, said his rule for using commas was that you should put a comma in the place or location where you would take a breath if you were reading the phrase aloud. I rather like commas. It gives me pause, which is the whole point, yes?

I suspect English as we knew/know it, will be going right down the hopper within the next generation. I can tell by the quality of English on TV. Some of the news folks have a horrible command of the English language, their first language. Scary. Oh well.

Taz_Zoee
07-14-2008, 09:13 AM
I was going through some stuff of John's and came across an old article from Mac World that explains about the various signs on the keyboard and how to use them right. It seems that most of us are using " for quotation marks, but that is wrong. This is used for inch! A quotation mark is: ” “
Graphic Designers often use the French one » « for aestaetic? reasons.

However, on a Forum like this, I don't really care which is used, but it's nice to know, in case you need it professionally.

I understand about the directions of the quotation marks when writing, and that's how I do it. But on my keyboard there is only one " straight up and down. :(

I have another question about quotation marks. I always use ". When (or would you ever) use ' as quotation marks??

Gracefulsarah
07-14-2008, 10:53 AM
and don't even get me started on the apostrophes! :rolleyes:

Ugh, tell me about it. I saw a truck pulling a trailer a few weeks ago with the business name painted all over it. The painting was professionally done and looked beautiful. The business name? Patio's Galore. :( Um... Hello? sheesh.

Gracefulsarah
07-14-2008, 10:55 AM
I understand about the directions of the quotation marks when writing, and that's how I do it. But on my keyboard there is only one " straight up and down. :(

I have another question about quotation marks. I always use ". When (or would you ever) use ' as quotation marks??

You would use ' when quoting someone who was quoting someone else. For example:

Billy said "That guy was really angry and he yelled 'Get out!' then he ran down the street."

Randi
07-14-2008, 10:57 AM
I take it you're using a Windows machine? There are lots of different options for using signs etc., depending on what keyboard you have. On mine Alt+Shift+K = this one ˝.
Try various combinations to see what you have! :)

Taz_Zoee
07-14-2008, 11:10 AM
You would use ' when quoting someone who was quoting someone else. For example:

Billy said "That guy was really angry and he yelled 'Get out!' then he ran down the street."
Oh yeah, now I remember that rule. I have been out of school for too long. :rolleyes:


I take it you're using a Windows machine? There are lots of different options for using signs etc., depending on what keyboard you have. On mine Alt+Shift+K = this one ˝.
Try various combinations to see what you have! :)

Testing: :( Alt+Shift+K does nothing for me. So I guess I just have a lame computer/keyboard. Oh well. Everyone gets the idea even if I use the straight " ones. LOL

Randi
07-14-2008, 11:32 AM
You can also use the Font drop-down to see what symbols are available in all those special "weird" fonts that come with Windows, like Wingdings etc.

smokey the elder
07-14-2008, 03:19 PM
The expression "an historic" bugs the heck out of me. You pronounce the "h", so the consonent rule applies.

RedHedd
07-14-2008, 06:00 PM
You can make Word use "smart quotes" (right and left facing sets as appropriate) by changing your options. You have to dig to get to it, but once you set it, it will make nice pretty curly appostrophes and quotation marks every time. The only time it gets confuzzled is if you make edits. ;)

Catty1
07-14-2008, 07:44 PM
Actually, I HAVE heard "an historic" used in speech, without the H - usually, it is for a more formal event, even on a newscast. The launching of the Titanic was an event that could have been described that way.

Suki Wingy
07-14-2008, 07:50 PM
I have another question about quotation marks. I always use ". When (or would you ever) use ' as quotation marks??

It is also correct in British writing, I believe.

Miss Z
07-14-2008, 08:01 PM
Actually, I HAVE heard "an historic" used in speech, without the H - usually, it is for a more formal event, even on a newscast. The launching of the Titanic was an event that could have been described that way.

In my local dialect I would probably say 'an 'istoric'. Although when typing I still think it is appropriate to use the correct grammar.


It is also correct in British writing, I believe.

Yeah, I was always taught " is for speech, ' is an apostrophe or for quotation. :)

Catty1
07-14-2008, 10:57 PM
Zara, speaking of dialect - WAY before you were born, Petula Clark made her first appearance on a North American TV show - I THINK it was Ed Sullivan.

Anyway, "Pet" told Ed that the British were the only people that had a word to rhyme with "orange".

"What's that?" asked Ed.

"Door'inge," she replied. :D

shais_mom
07-15-2008, 12:17 AM
the....only.....thing......that.....reallly.....
sends...me......BATTY.....CATTY....is....this..... can .....you......guess.....what.......that.......is?? ???....
or,,,this,,,,does,,,,it,,,,make,,,,,sense,,,,,,at, ,,,alll,,,,,

and one b/c I said it wrong for so many years and my mom was on my arse about it for so long that its become a pet peeve.
I've seen that movie before. (proper)
I seen that movie before. (improper)
I saw that movie before.(im/proper???) it sounds correct when saying it out loud.

and when I go back to edit this
there is no space b/n the se nds - I even changed the word and it still put a space in there.
ohh I put in a return and it didn't separate it.
weird

jenn_librarian
07-15-2008, 01:44 AM
the....only.....thing......that.....reallly.....se nds...me......BATTY.....is....this.....can .....you......guess.....what.......that.......is?? ???....




Gee..... I have no idea who does that.... at all. :rolleyes: :p

Ya know, I never used to do that elipse thing, but started it about a year ago, at least. I annoy myself when I do it, lol.

G535
07-15-2008, 02:25 AM
http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii256/foamer22/Funny%20Pics/GrammarPolice-799780.gif

People who should be reading this thread won't as they don't realise that they're making mistakes. :)

Miss Z
07-15-2008, 05:35 AM
Zara, speaking of dialect - WAY before you were born, Petula Clark made her first appearance on a North American TV show - I THINK it was Ed Sullivan.

Anyway, "Pet" told Ed that the British were the only people that had a word to rhyme with "orange".

"What's that?" asked Ed.

"Door'inge," she replied. :D

LMAO! :D

Cinder & Smoke
07-15-2008, 08:30 AM
the....only.....thing......that.....reallly.....se nds...me......BATTY.....is....this.....

can .....you......guess.....what.......that.......is?? ???....

:eek;

OMG!

Is she talkin about **ME** ? :confused:

:o
:o
-------------------------------

And you're RIGHT ... the "sends" shows on the prieview as "sends" -
all tucked in together ---
but when it displays as the real post --- "sends" splits into "se nds".

HOW's it do dat?

Taz_Zoee
07-15-2008, 09:30 AM
the....only.....thing......that.....reallly.....se nds...me......BATTY.....is....this.....can .....you......guess.....what.......that.......is?? ???....
or,,,this,,,,does,,,,it,,,,make,,,,,sense,,,,,,at, ,,,alll,,,,,


I work with a woman that ALWAYS writes (emails) like this. As I read her emails I say - dot dot dot. She even does it when emailing outside the company.:mad: Obviously she doesn't do it between EVERY word....but between every thought......like this.....

And G535, you are absolutely correct. That is why I AM reading it, because I know I am guilty of many errors. Hee hee.

smokey the elder
07-15-2008, 01:35 PM
Let's face it, English grammar (and spelling!) is a horror show.;) I think we all have our pet peeves and such, and it's best to keep a sense of humor about it all.

smokey the elder
07-15-2008, 01:36 PM
In the spirit of good fun, I offer the following link, often attributed to the late Isaac Asimov: http://www.grrr.net/spelling.html

Suki Wingy
07-15-2008, 03:14 PM
That hurt my head!

Randi
07-15-2008, 03:29 PM
In the spirit of good fun, I offer the following link, often attributed to the late Isaac Asimov: http://www.grrr.net/spelling.html
l love it!! A modified version of this old one: :D


An interesting article highlighting British power over Germany

The European Union have recently announced that finally an agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of negotiations, Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and as such has accepted a five year phased plan to implement what will become known as EuroEnglish .

In the first year, 's' will be used instead of the soft 'c'. Sertainly sivil servants will resieve this news with joy . Also the hard 'c' will be replased with 'k`. Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter .

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome 'ph' will be replased by 'f'. This will make words like 'fotograf' 20 per sent shorter .

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible, which have always been a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of silent "e"s in the languag is disgrasful and they wil go .

By the fourth year , peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing 'th' by 'z' and 'w'
by 'v'

During ze fifz year , ze unesesary 'o' kan be dropd from vords kontaining 'ou', and similar changes vud of kore be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters .

After zis fifz year, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer.

Ze drem vil finali kum tru !

Randi
07-15-2008, 03:36 PM
Oh, and The American's guide to speaking British: ;)

http://www.effingpot.com/slang.shtml

shais_mom
07-15-2008, 03:39 PM
:eek;

OMG!

Is she talkin about **ME** ? :confused:

:o
:o
-------------------------------

And you're RIGHT ... the "sends" shows on the prieview as "sends" -
all tucked in together ---
but when it displays as the real post --- "sends" splits into "se nds".

HOW's it do dat?

I fixed it by adding a return before sends. ??:confused:??

jenn_librarian
07-15-2008, 08:13 PM
That hurt my head!

Ditto!! That was not an easy read!

jenn_librarian
07-15-2008, 08:34 PM
The British English link is cracking me up!! I feel like Kelso on That 70's show, or Beavis and Butthead, lol. :p

Biggie - This is unusual. A biggie is what a child calls his poo! Hence the reason Wendy's Hamburgers has never really taken off in England - who would buy "biggie fries"? Yuck - I'm sure you wouldn't buy poo fries! The other meaning of Biggie is erection. It just gets worse!

Blow me - When an English colleague of mine exclaimed "Blow Me" in front of a large American audience, he brought the house down. It is simply an exclamation of surprise, short for "Blow me down", meaning something like I am so surprised you could knock me over just by blowing. Similar to "Well knock me down with a feather". It is not a request for services to be performed.

Diddle - To rip someone off or to con someone is to diddle them. When you visit England, check your change to make sure you haven't been diddled! (At least in my area, when you say someone was "diddling" it meant playing with himself).

Dog's bollocks - You would say that something really fantastic was the dog's bollocks. Comes from the fact that a dog's bollocks are so fantastic that he can't stop licking them! Nice huh? (this is just too funny!)

Excuse me - This is a great one! It's what kids are taught to say when they belch in public. We are also taught to say "pardon me" if we fart out loud. Unfortunately in American "excuse me" means you are encroaching in someone's personal space and you say "pardon me" when you don't hear someone properly. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that actually Americans are not belching and farting all the time.

OMG...
Fanny - This is the word for a woman's front bits! One doesn't normally talk about anyone's fanny as it is a bit rude. You certainly don't have a fanny pack, or smack people on their fannys - you would get arrested for that! Careful use of this word in the UK is advised!


Anyone see any others they find amusing?? I'm sorry I'm so easily amused, but the differences are cracking me up, and just imagining the faces of people who are hearing them used improperly is making me giggle.

My mom's one secretary was British, and she would tell the kids at school "Don't forget your rubbers!" on their way to their next class. Seems she was talking about not forgetting the erasers. :p

jenn_librarian
07-15-2008, 08:54 PM
Rat arsed - Yet another term for drunk, sloshed or plastered. You might say loaded.


Example: Staci was getting rat arsed on her Beergaritas this past weekend.


I'm loving these sayings, lol.

Suki Wingy
07-16-2008, 12:44 AM
Yeah, that site's a blast to dig through!

RICHARD
07-16-2008, 01:16 AM
Both my grammars died a long time ago, that exempts me.

I don't have grandpas either, so don't bother.:confused:

smokey the elder
07-16-2008, 10:40 AM
Ah, yes: The US and the UK, two countries separated by a common language.:D