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Is it supposed to be a HTML or an HTML
When should I use “a” versus “an” in front of a word beginning with the letter h?
How does one correctly pronounce the letter 'H': “Aych” or “haych”?

While not strictly a programming question, it does appear when talking about programming and in documentation, etc.

It is proper to say a href or an href? (This anchor has (a/an) href element.)

I am familiar with the English rule of using an iff the next word starts with a vowel, but many blogs are saying an href. I was wondering if href is an exception or those blogs have incorrect usage.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Aug 22 '12 at 17:40

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marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt Aug 22 '12 at 17:56

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

An href would be correct, since the term is actually an abbreviation for hypertext reference (source), and correctly pronounced similar to aych-ref. Since this gives it the sound of a leading vowel, you use an.

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I agree - Even though it starts with a consonant, it is a vowel sound. Saying "a href" is awkward (try it). I can't do it without saying "an". – Tom Pietrosanti Aug 21 '12 at 17:43

The proper way to say it is an href.

The usage of a/an is dictated by the sound of the word following the article. Generally, if the word is pronounced with a vowel sound at the beginning, then you use an. If the word following is pronounced with a non-vowel sound, then you use a.

For abbreviations, the same rule applies: you just use the pronunciation of the abbreviated form. In this case href is pronounced ayh-ref, the ay part being a vowel sound; hence the use of an.

If you say hyperlink, then the first sound of the word is h, which is not a vowel sound; hence the a.


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It depends on how you pronounce href — which is basically a matter of how you pronounce H. If you start it with a vowel sound, like aitch, then it is an; if you start it with a consonant like haitch, then it should be a. Aitch is the most normal. but haitch is common in some accents.

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