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I've seen many people who say:

This is a HTML page.

Yet I've also seen many people who say:

This is an HTML page.

Are both usages equally correct?

Or, which is the grammatically correct one?


Possible Duplicates:
“A” vs. “An” in writing vs. pronunciation
Do you use “a” or “an” before acronyms?

4

6 Answers 6

34

It depends on whether you say aitch or haitch.

  • An aitch tee em el page
  • A haitch tee em el page
6
  • You can hear both of them here: forvo.com/word/html
    – GEdgar
    Jul 15, 2011 at 13:40
  • 1
    ...what do you put down when you're writing, then?
    – Standback
    Feb 8, 2014 at 20:18
  • 2
    @Standback I say aitch so I write "an HTML page"
    – Henry
    Feb 8, 2014 at 22:44
  • 2
    HUT-MUL made my day ))) English lacks letters to describe the sounds that are used to pronounce it the way it's done at my origin, something like ha t m[u-e] l[u-e] which is fun to compare
    – Lu4
    Jun 11, 2015 at 19:35
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    Both are regarded as standard, though it seems that (apart from Catholic-educated Ireland and its derivatives) aitch and an HTML page are probably more common across the English speaking world
    – Henry
    Aug 28, 2019 at 17:00
13

The choice between a and an is determined by the initial sound, and not the initial letter, of the following word. Most people pronounce 'h' as 'aitch', making an appropriate. (I say 'most', because some people pronounce it as 'haitch'.)

5

An html (echh-tee-em-el) but a hyper text...
Similarly, an MBA but a Masters of Business....

3

When you read it aloud, it's "Aitch Tee Em El". The first sound is a vowel. So it should be "an HTML".

2

"An HTML snippet" is correct. The reason we have two versions of the indefinite article ("a" and "an") is to help with pronunciation - what the French call liaison. "An" is used when the following noun begins with a vowel sound, so it would be perverse to use "a" simply because the next letter is a consonant. For the same reason "an hotel" used to be correct, as it was customary to drop the H.

1
  • 3
    Note that this means different pronunciation dialects may make different -- but equally correct -- choices about a/an.
    – zwol
    Sep 25, 2013 at 23:34
-4

"H" stands for "hyper..." ; the "h" of all the words starting by hyper is never aspirated (an hyperbol, etc.).

Then : an HTML.

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  • 1
    Please review this answer to understand why your answer misses the point. Pronunciation of HTML has nothing to do with the pronunciation of hyper-. Oct 8, 2013 at 10:12
  • @Matt Эллен. Please could you explain my mistake ? The "H" refers to "Hypertext", whereas it has nothing to do with the pronunciation of HTML ? Oct 8, 2013 at 12:54
  • Your answer seems to state: the H of HTML mean hyper, so the article used in front of HTML should be an. This reasoning is flawed as the expansion of an initialism (that is pronounced as the initialism, such as HTML) does not affect what article is used. Oct 8, 2013 at 13:00

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