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“A” vs. “An” in writing vs. pronunciation
Do you use “a” or “an” before acronyms?

I've often seen people calling a HTML page an HTML page.

I'm wondering what's the grammatically correct usage?

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marked as duplicate by Dusty, JSBձոգչ, RegDwigнt May 17 '11 at 14:39

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
related to english.stackexchange.com/questions/629/… –  JoseK May 17 '11 at 14:32
    
also related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/1016/… –  Bradd Szonye Sep 25 '13 at 23:21
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We have a blog article that explains this and much more! –  Matt Эллен Oct 8 '13 at 9:41

6 Answers 6

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It depends on whether you say aitch or haitch.

  • An aitch tee em el page
  • A haitch tee em el page
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2  
No, no, it's pronounced HUT-MUL. "A hutmul page". –  billynomates May 17 '11 at 14:39
    
You can hear both of them here: forvo.com/word/html –  GEdgar Jul 15 '11 at 13:40
    
...what do you put down when you're writing, then? –  Standback Feb 8 at 20:18
    
@Standback I say aitch so I write "an HTML page" –  Henry Feb 8 at 22:44

The choice between a and an is determined by the initial sound, and not the initial letter, of the following word. Most people pronounce 'h' as 'aitch', making an appropriate. (I say 'most', because some people pronounce it as 'haitch'.)

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When you read it aloud, it's "Aitch Tee Em El". The first sound is a vowel. So it should be "an HTML".

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"An HTML snippet" is correct. The reason we have two versions of the indefinite article ("a" and "an") is to help with pronunciation - what the French call liaison. "An" is used when the following noun begins with a vowel sound, so it would be perverse to use "a" simply because the next letter is a consonant. For the same reason "an hotel" used to be correct, as it was customary to drop the H.

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Note that this means different pronunciation dialects may make different -- but equally correct -- choices about a/an. –  Zack Sep 25 '13 at 23:34

An html (echh-tee-em-el) but a hyper text...
Similarly, an MBA but a Masters of Business....

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"H" stands for "hyper..." ; the "h" of all the words starting by hyper is never aspirated (an hyperbol, etc.).

Then : an HTML.

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1  
Please review this answer to understand why your answer misses the point. Pronunciation of HTML has nothing to do with the pronunciation of hyper-. –  Matt Эллен Oct 8 '13 at 10:12
    
@Matt Эллен. Please could you explain my mistake ? The "H" refers to "Hypertext", whereas it has nothing to do with the pronunciation of HTML ? –  ex-user2728 Oct 8 '13 at 12:54
    
Your answer seems to state: the H of HTML mean hyper, so the article used in front of HTML should be an. This reasoning is flawed as the expansion of an initialism (that is pronounced as the initialism, such as HTML) does not affect what article is used. –  Matt Эллен Oct 8 '13 at 13:00

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