In the following context, which usage is correct, or are both of them OK?

  1. After a hour-long drive, they arrived at Chinatown.
  2. After an hour-long drive, they arrived at Chinatown.

Your help is greatly appreciated!

  • I don't think this is a duplicate, because this is a compound word with a hyphen which doesn't seem to be answered in there. – Rex Jan 20 '14 at 8:45
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    It doesn't matter how long it is, how many hyphens or diaereses it contains, whether we're in China or what colour font you're using. It just depends on whether the next syllable after a/an is a vowel-sound or not. Or on whether traditionalists should be allowed to say an historic / an hotel for old times' sake. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 20 '14 at 8:57
  • "You should put an before any word that begins with a vowel sound" clearly does answer your question as well. "Any word" includes compound words with hyphens, compound words without hyphens, non-compound words, and all other words, past, present, future, or imaginary. There is literally not a single word it does not include. – RegDwigнt Jan 20 '14 at 10:47

Use "an" before unsounded "h." Because the "h" hasn't any phonetic representation and has no audible sound, the sound that follows the article is a vowel; consequently, "an" is used.

an honorable peace
an honest error
an hour-long drive


  • Yes, but this has been said here on various occasions. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 20 '14 at 8:59
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    @EdwinAshworth The question should be closed as duplicate then. – B Faley Jan 20 '14 at 9:01
  • Until such time as the necessary number of close-votes accrue, it would be better not to add answers then. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 20 '14 at 9:03
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    @EdwinAshworth I don't see anything wrong with answering duplicate questions. Why do you think it's better not to answer them? – B Faley Jan 20 '14 at 9:05
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    @EdwinAshworth Please let me disagree with your interpretation. You can use meta.english.stackexchange.com to ask for the opinion of other people. – B Faley Jan 20 '14 at 9:45

An hour-long drive makes more sense than a hour-long drive

I haven't seen anyone saying a hour-long drive so far.


Use the "an" article before any silent h. This is an exception to the above rule. For example, "an honor."

Read more: ehow

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