Possible Duplicates:
“A” vs. “An” in writing vs. pronunciation
Use of “a” versus “an”

I know that "an" should be used when a word is followed by a noun that starts with a vowel.

But what about a numerical value that isn't formally written out and used as an adjective? Such as "a 8x8 grid" is it that, or "an 8x8 grid" ?

I've received some disagreements on this in the past, so I'd just like some clearing up. Any reference to formal rules would be much appreciated.


"A" vs. "an" doesn't depend on spelling; it depends on pronunciation. 8 begins with a vowel sound so, 'an' is appropriate.

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  • 1
    Ah, so that's why you say "an hour ago" instead of "a hour ago" ? – Hanna Jun 2 '11 at 8:08
  • @Johaness: Right! :) – Brennan Vincent Jun 2 '11 at 8:17
  • 1
    Yep, dropped 'h's at the beginning of the word lead to the word's beginning with a vowel sound, and so the indefinite article changing. Witness the UK pronunciation of the article with 'herb' ('h' not dropped), a herb, a herbalist, vs. the US pronunciation ('h' dropped), an herb, an herbalist. – Jez Jun 2 '11 at 8:18

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