Possible Duplicates:
“A user” or “an user”?
Use of “a” versus “an”

If I remember correctly back to my school days, the rule is to use "a" if the next word starts with a consonant, or "an" if the next word is a vowel.

For example:

  • This is a banana.
  • This is an egg.

If the above is correct, then why does this sentence sound wrong...?

  • The account requires an username.

marked as duplicate by Alenanno, Steve Melnikoff, RegDwigнt May 6 '11 at 10:32

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When a word begins with a u, sometimes it a acquires what linguists call a "y-glide": a pronunciation that makes it sound like it begins with a "y":

  • user (yoozer)
  • uniform (yooniform)
  • ubiquitous (yoobiquitous)

And so on.

Now think of words you pronounce that begin with "y": a youth, a yew — you wouldn't say "an youth" or "an yew".

So we say "a user" but "an understanding" — just that simple.

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