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!


I bought myself an hilarious one!

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

  • 1
    See When should I use “a” vs “an”? Jul 29, 2014 at 13:23
  • They're both used (although "a hilarious" is more common). Jul 29, 2014 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. Jul 29, 2014 at 13:37

1 Answer 1


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"!

  • Re: the HTC phone --It seems like it should be the other way around. Jul 29, 2014 at 14:13
  • Whooops! How did I make that mistake?! Thanks @ChrisSunami. Edited it. (:
    – Neeku
    Jul 29, 2014 at 14:14

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