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Is it correct to say or write an student or an store?

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    How do you pronounce st? This doesn't feel natural.
    – Kobi
    Aug 16, 2010 at 8:45
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    I've noticed that speakers of Tagalog, for instance, seem to have difficulty saying words beginning with an S consonant blend, preferring to say estore or estudent.
    – moioci
    Aug 24, 2010 at 14:03
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    moioci: I believe people around the world also do that. Since there is no word starting with s followed by consonant in Portuguese, people tend to think and speak like /ɪstɔːr/ instead of /stɔːr/ Nov 17, 2010 at 23:56
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    Ditto with Spanish. Feb 8, 2011 at 8:18
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    Ditto with Hindi/Urdu speakers (i.e., they also tend to pronounce them istudent and iscore), but anyone with sufficient practice can cure themselves of this habit. Feb 8, 2011 at 9:06

2 Answers 2

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Always use an for words which sound like they start with a vowel, and always use a for words which sound like they start with a consonant. The rules for h are more complex, and it can be ok to use either.

The usage of the indefinite article preceding h are discussed here. In particular, look at nohat's response.

As for student and store, they should always be preceded with a and never with an, because they both start with the consonant /s/ when spoken.

Correct:

A student, a store

Incorrect:

An student, an store

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    So e.g. A united states citizen, a unique opportunity but an uncle?
    – gontadu
    Sep 26, 2012 at 4:19
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    Yes. (extra text to fill limit) Sep 26, 2012 at 21:57
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    Many Spaniards speaking English say "an (e)student"
    – Henry
    Oct 15, 2013 at 23:00
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The quickest way to remember the rule for this: "an hour and a half". Thus, "a" for something with an initial consonant sound, and "an" otherwise.

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