A or AN?
Should you use A or AN before the word HISTORIC?
The traditional use is to use "an" before the word "historic." The H is an unvoiced vowell that takes the sound of the vowell that follows. As times change, the language changes so I don't think you would be faulted for using "a historic ..." but I use the traditional "an."
|link||answered Jun 08 '13 at 02:25 Linda Ofshe New member|
I disagree with answers 1-3. It's the sound that matters in this case. Use "A" when the word sounds like (or is) a vowel, otherwise, as in this case, use "AN" because the "H" in historic is not silent and does not sound like a vowel. Had I not had to sign-up first, I'd have slipped in before Linda. I must, however, point out the correct spelling of vowel. It's one of those words you look at for a while and say to yourself, "Nah, can't be right." In this case it is - with respect, only one "L," Linda. ("L" capitalized for clarity).
|link||answered Jun 08 '13 at 02:31 Brother Dave Contributor|
Use of "an" or "a" before a word starting with "h" usually depends on whether the "h" is sounded or unsounded. We say "a house" but "an hour". The word "historic", and other three syllable words starting with "h" where the stress is on the middle syllable, doesn't quite fit this rule. Usage has differed over time and differs between countries and also dialects. However, there is a group of words of three or more syllables with the stress on the second syllable, such as historic, historical, hypothesis, hysterical, habitual, harmonica and hereditary, where people tended to still use "an" rather than "a". The "h" is less well sounded in these words compared with certain other words starting with "h" where the stress is on the first syllable such as history, histogram, hypothetical, holiday and hemorrhoid, or on the only syllable such as hand, host and hymn. Thus "an historic" is still often used. The word "haphazard" is an interesting exception. Here, the stress is on the second syllable but we hardly ever see, for example, "an haphazard event" even though it fits into the same category of words as "historic" etc above. This is perhaps because the first syllable of "haphazard" is actually quite strong even though the stress is on the second syllable. All in all, it appears that "a historic" will win the day, although "an historic" will still no doubt be used where the "h" sound is weak. This could especially be the case in certain dialects of spoken English - "an 'istoric" can be easier to say than "a historic", especially if talking quickly. Otherwise, "a historic" seems to be becoming the norm.
|link comment||answered Jun 08 '13 at 05:06 Anju New member|
I think it is a regional thing and tied in with dialect. In some parts of the world the "h" in historic is aspirate and in some it is not. If you pronounce the "h" then it should follow "a" and if you do not pronounce the "h" it should be "an".
|link comment||answered Jun 08 '13 at 11:10 Marion New member|
If writing, it is "a" historic; "a" if the succeeding word begins with a consonant, "an" if with a vowel. If speaking, i.e. in the vernacular, "an" historic flows off the tongue much better (but is technically incorrect), and spoken English, or any live language, is much more flexible than written English or other live language.
|link comment||edited Jun 08 '13 at 04:46 Marshall N Brown New member|
You should use “an” before a word beginning with an “H” only if the “H” is not pronounced: “an honest effort”; it’s properly “a historic event” though many sophisticated speakers somehow prefer the sound of “an historic,” so that version is not likely to get you into any real trouble.
~ Quoted from the book 'Common Errors in English Language'
|link comment||answered Jun 08 '13 at 05:14 Anūp Chakravartī New member|
When the word begins with a vowel, use "AN." When the word begins with a consonant, use "A." There are exceptions when a word starts with a consonant but when spoken it sounds like a vowel. So, in this case since "historic" does not sound like a vowel, you would write/say "a historic."
|link comment||answered Jun 09 '13 at 08:17 Melissa Crook New member|
Of course there are exceptions to that rule, but as an English teacher in today's society I am not going to tell my students that, as in "their" world everything "sounds" right, which makes grading writing assignments riddled with what "sounds right" very unpleasant.
|link comment||answered Jun 13 '13 at 18:06 Karen Jackson New member|
A sound option to decide whether to use "a" or "an" with a word like historic is simply to remove it. For instance, you would not say something is "a event." Instead, it is grammatically "an event" and, thus, "an historic event." Keeping one's eye on the object of the modifier pretty much will keep one on the proper grammatical track.
|link||answered Jun 08 '13 at 05:45 Joe Gillette New member|
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