An article is a word that combines with a noun to indicate the type of reference being made by the noun.

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Do you use “a” or “an” before acronyms?

99% of the time, I'm clear on when I should use "a" versus "an." There's one case, though, where people & references I respect disagree. Which of the following would you precede with "a" or "an," ...
62
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10answers
17k views

When should I use “a” vs “an”?

In the following example, is it appropriate to use a or an as the indefinite article, and why? He ate __ green apple. I know that in the case of just "apple", it would be "an apple," but I've ...
61
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8answers
3k views

“A/An” preceding a parenthetical statement

When a/an precedes a parenthetical aside (sometimes seen in informal/conversational writing), should the vowel rule depend on the first word in parentheses, or the next word in the "regular" flow of ...
57
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11answers
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When should I use “a” versus “an” in front of a word beginning with the letter h?

A basic grammar rule is to use an instead of a before a vowel sound. Given that historic is not pronounced with a silent h, I use “a historic”. Is this correct? What about heroic? Should be “It was a ...
36
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8answers
3k views

Why is there no plural indefinite article?

The takes either a singular or a plural subject. A/an only takes the singular. When we pluralize a noun preceded by an indefinite article, we simply drop the article (sometimes replacing it with ...
31
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5answers
9k views

Are there any simple rules for choosing the definite vs. indefinite (vs. none) article?

I can’t for the life of me figure out where to use a and where to use the — and where there is no article at all. Is there a simple rule of thumb to memorize? The standard rule you always hear: ...
20
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6answers
18k views

Does one use 'a' or 'an' before the word X-Ray?

I was asking this question on Area 51: "How do I tell if an airport scanner is a X-ray scanner?", but I keep wanting to put an 'an' in front of X-ray because it starts with the 'eh' sound. So is it ...
19
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2answers
964 views

Why don't we use the indefinite article with 'software'?

Generally, one doesn't use the indefinite article with a noun because it's plural, but sometimes you get nouns where, for some reason, the indefinite article isn't used even though the noun is ...
17
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1answer
2k views

What article do we use before a symbol? Is it “an @” or “a @”?

I got a doubt when reading this text: The name of the decorator should be prepended with an @ symbol. Should we write "a @ symbol" or "an @ symbol"? As "@" is in fact "at", I would think "an" ...
12
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2answers
1k views

Usage of English definite article when referring to generic word

My mother language does not have articles, so I still struggle to choose when to use the indefinte and definite article. The other day, I learned: "The dog is an animal" is acceptable. "The iron is ...
12
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4answers
1k views

Why is it “an yearly”?

In the book The Wealth of Nations, (Adam Smith, 1776), the words an yearly are used. Why was this an exception to the indefinite article rules? Chapter VI, Book I: At the rate of ten per cent ...
12
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2answers
683 views

Indefinite article in the “An [adjective] [number] [plural noun]” construction

I wasn't sure how best to phrase the title of this question. I'm interested in constructions of the following form: An estimated 50 people died in the bombing. 'An estimated' could be ...
11
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5answers
22k views

“Half an hour” versus “half hour”

I'll be back in half an hour. I'll be back in half hour. Which is the correct sentence? Are there any differences between British English, and American English?
11
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4answers
21k views

“As part of” versus “as a part of”

When should I use "as part of", and when "as a part of"?
10
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5answers
38k views

Which is correct — “a year” or “an year”?

The word year when pronounced starts with a phonetic sound of e which is a vowel sound making it eligible for being preceded by an. Yet, we tend to write a year. Why?
10
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4answers
936 views

Why did Obama use “a” in “… to hear a King proclaim that …”

From Obama's second inaugural speech: We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our ...
9
votes
4answers
13k views

Is it “a uniform” or “an uniform”? [duplicate]

On a Physics specification, it says: 6.7 Know how to use two permanent magnets to produce a uniform magnetic field pattern. Isn't it "produce an uniform magnetic field", or is the existing ...
9
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2answers
765 views

Are there specific rules to build expressions with or without articles?

In English, there are lots of expressions built using articles like: at the station to the cinema play the piano have breakfast (no article) take a bath take a shower Are there specific rules or ...
9
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2answers
375 views

“There is X” vs “There is a/an X”

1: There is a reluctance on the part of European companies to buy from American sources. 2: There is an emphasis on the organic roots of spirituality. 3: There is a tendency to make the ...
8
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3answers
651 views

Is it correct to say “one out of *a* possible four”?

I am curious if it is correct to say "one out of a possible four". This is what I found in a publication: Discrete level (one out of a possible four), corresponding to a range of safety ...
8
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1answer
1k views

Definite article with proper nouns, titles followed by a common noun

Over time I developed this rule where if a title or a proper name is followed by a common noun that represents the class of the entity I am referring to, then I use the definite article. In Example 1, ...
8
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4answers
1k views

Why does English have an indefinite article? [closed]

I've seen many non-native speakers of English not making use of indefinite articles, presumably since their first language did not contain them. Thinking about this, and about the fact that even in ...
7
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2answers
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Is pronouncing “The” as in “Thee” still correct in titles?

When saying the title of JRR Tolkien's masterpiece, which is the correct pronunciation (Yes, I know that they're spelled wrong, but I'm trying to emphasize the pronunciation): Thuh Lord of thuh ...
7
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2answers
231 views

“An SATA device”? Weird article choice in suggested edit

This question references a suggested edit I rejected on Super User. The edit suggested that the a in There's no way you're plugging any of those directly into a SATA interface. be changed to ...
7
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2answers
669 views

Definite or indefinite article in “the/a devil's advocate”

I can't quite figure out which of the following expressions is more correct: He is the devil's advocate. He is a devil's advocate. He is playing devil's advocate. The combination of an article ...
7
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1answer
181 views

What colour eyes

I've just stumbled on this sentence What colour eyes does she have? in my grammar book. What got me interested in this is the combination of the words colour, eyes with what and without any ...
7
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1answer
235 views

“You're too clever a man”

You're too clever a man to imagine this. The above sentence was said by George Galloway, a man of excellent rhetorical skills. Since he said it, I doubt it's wrong, grammatically. But, I wonder ...
6
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2answers
424 views

Why is “a” necessary before “Mr. X” and “Mrs. Y”?

There is the following sentence in the scene a reputed lawyer, Thomas Cohen gives advice to 16-year old client William Kane, the son of deceased bank owner on the issue of inheritance of his father’s ...
6
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3answers
4k views

How many articles should go in “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”?

On the very first Christmas card it was written as "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year..." http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/christmas-card-sayings-and-phrases.html In Wiktionary that same ...
6
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3answers
312 views

Article in “having (a) hard time”

What's the difference? I'm having hard time figuring that out I'm having a hard time figuring that out According to Google both are used equally often. Does the article change meaning here? ...
6
votes
2answers
242 views

“the average person” vs “an average person”

There's a question in a forum I frequent, and I'm trying to decide whether "the average" or "an average" is appropriate in its title. Let's say the question is: "Why is the average Canadian ...
6
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3answers
1k views

a cold vs flu / the flu

Have you got a cold? Have you got flu? Have you got the flu? Why can't we say a flu or the cold in the previous examples?
5
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2answers
3k views

A or an XML report? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Do you use “a” or “an” before acronyms? Does one use 'a' or 'an' before the word 'X-Ray'? Quite simply, should a sentence read "a XML report" ...
5
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3answers
278 views

Why is it “A president,” not “The president” in the sentence, “Voters re-elected a president who promised to fight for …”?

The New York Times article (November 9) titled, “The Fiscal Cliff Opener” begins with the following sentence. “On Tuesday, voters re-elected a president who promised to fight for higher taxes on ...
5
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2answers
3k views

Difference between “change is constant” and “change is a constant”

The boss asked me the other day whether it's more correct to say In our business, change is constant. or In our business, change is a constant. Both of these sound perfectly correct to me, ...
5
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3answers
1k views

Why do we use plural for indefinite objects?

Building off another question I answered here, I couldn't justify why exactly we say: I like to ride bicycles. Instead of: I like to ride a bicycle. (This could be anything: "climb mountains", ...
5
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2answers
486 views

Indefinite Article Preceding Noun “Wind”

It's common to say "a gentle wind", but is it OK to say "a wind"? I just noticed that there's a novel named "A Wind in the Door", in which case I guess "A" could be used here due to the modifying "in ...
4
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1answer
3k views

Everyone Else's Lives

It would seem as though this is incorrect, since we each only have one life. Is my intuition correct that it should be everyone else's life and not everyone else's lives?
4
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2answers
210 views

Indefinite article before symbols

The choice of "a" versus "an" depends on the pronunciation of the following word. Mathematical writing may use symbols as nouns or adjectives, and their pronunciation is not always clear. Here is a ...
4
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5answers
156 views

Room Temperature: Article “A” or Not?

Below, “room temperature” takes the article “a” in one case but not the other. “Temperature” seems like a countable noun, so why no article in the first case? What is the grammar that is working here? ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Can I start a sentence with a singular noun with no article?

For example, which one of the following sentences can I use? Consumer of Product X needs to fill out a rebate form […]. Consumers of Product X need to […]. A consumer of Product X needs to ...
4
votes
3answers
540 views

“A different one” when we have 3 objects - other/another? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Can “another” be used with plural nouns provided periods or measurements don’t count? Here is the context (found in a forum for learners of English) WAITRESS: Do you ...
4
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2answers
126 views

Should one use an indefinite article after 'kind of'?

If the noun after kind of is singular, do we use an indefinite article or not? For example, That kind of an answer is teasing. That kind of answer is teasing. Which is correct?
4
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2answers
239 views

Is It More Appropriate To Use “One” or “You” When Speaking Of An Indefinite Person?

In high school English, it was imparted to us that in formal American English when speaking about an indefinite party, we should use the word one. For example, "One should cover his or her mouth when ...
4
votes
0answers
333 views

Guide to English Articles [closed]

I'm looking for a full and complete guide to English articles like THE, A, AN, (none). Can anyone recommend me something like that? I'd like to finally learn this and never make a mistake again. ...
3
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3answers
4k views

“a” or “an” for words that don't start with vowels but sound like they're starting with a vowel

Is it correct to say or write an student or an store?
3
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2answers
126 views

“Ate cheeseburger” or “ate a cheeseburger”?

Which of the following is correct? Ate a cheese burger last night. Ate cheese burger last night.
3
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2answers
122 views

A XHTML document or An XHTML document

When writing this sentence: So it's possible to do an XHTML quine, but not a HTML quine I noticed that I used an for XHTML but not for HTML. In the discussion on this thread, I've picked up on a ...
3
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1answer
212 views

“Minutes later” vs. “a few minutes later”

Can I say this: I forgot about it minutes later. Or do I have to say it this way instead: I forgot about it a few minutes later.
3
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3answers
786 views

Use of the definite article “the” before “church”

I was in a Teacher's selection for a school in my country, and one of the coordinators said that she heard a mistake from another teacher that was unacceptable. I tried to figure out why was that, but ...