Which of these is correct? This is in the context of buying a surprise gift for someone and you think your gift is hilarious.

I bought myself a hilarious one!

or

I bought myself an hilarious one!

I’ve been saying both so many times that neither makes sense to me anymore.

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, Peter Shor , user66974, James Waldby - jwpat7, choster Jul 29 '14 at 14:00

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  • 1
  • They're both used (although "a hilarious" is more common). – Peter Shor Jul 29 '14 at 13:30
  • Note particularly this answer in the original question. Being British (and having listened to Jeremy Paxman for at least a couple of decades), I'm quite familiar with an historic (in writing, and in speech even where the /h/ is aspirated), but I've never read an hilarious, and never heard it except in Cockney-style aitch-dropping speech. – FumbleFingers Jul 29 '14 at 13:37
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Based on LDOCE, the pronunciation of the word is: /hı'leəriəs -'ler-/ and that /h/ is actually pronounced, and is NOT silent like the h in the word "hour". So you must use the indefinite article a, rather than an, because what you hear at the beginning of the word, is a consonant sound, rather than a vowel one.

a hilarious story


Note: This is unrelated to your example, but it's worth mentioning: I've seen "a HTC phone" on Irish/British newspapers several times, and the first time, I just blamed the editors for not being careful with proofreading things before publishing, and it took me a bit of time to recognize that the way they'd say that letter in British English is /heıtʃ/, that actually contains that /h/ in the beginning, where in American English that would be "an HTC phone"!

  • Excellent, Thanks Neeku, much appreciated. – Daft Jul 29 '14 at 13:26
  • Re: the HTC phone --It seems like it should be the other way around. – Chris Sunami Jul 29 '14 at 14:13
  • Whooops! How did I make that mistake?! Thanks @ChrisSunami. Edited it. (: – Neeku Jul 29 '14 at 14:14

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