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“A” vs. “An” in writing vs. pronunciation
Use of “a” versus “an”

I know that "an" should be used when a word is followed by a noun that starts with a vowel.

But what about a numerical value that isn't formally written out and used as an adjective? Such as "a 8x8 grid" is it that, or "an 8x8 grid" ?

I've received some disagreements on this in the past, so I'd just like some clearing up. Any reference to formal rules would be much appreciated.

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marked as duplicate by Thursagen, RegDwigнt Jun 2 '11 at 9:27

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1 Answer

"A" vs. "an" doesn't depend on spelling; it depends on pronunciation. 8 begins with a vowel sound so, 'an' is appropriate.

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Ah, so that's why you say "an hour ago" instead of "a hour ago" ? –  Johannes Jun 2 '11 at 8:08
    
@Johaness: Right! :) –  Brennan Vincent Jun 2 '11 at 8:17
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Yep, dropped 'h's at the beginning of the word lead to the word's beginning with a vowel sound, and so the indefinite article changing. Witness the UK pronunciation of the article with 'herb' ('h' not dropped), a herb, a herbalist, vs. the US pronunciation ('h' dropped), an herb, an herbalist. –  Jez Jun 2 '11 at 8:18
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