Difference between A and An

In the English language, vowels and consonants are two different sounds. The words that begin with a vowel sound, normally take the article “An” and the words that begin with the consonant sound, take the article “A”. This is the main difference between A and An. The following is a list of vowels and consonants.

The English alphabet consists of 26 letters and each letter has a different sound. There are five vowels and twenty-one consonants.

List of Homophones | Homophones Exa... x
List of Homophones | Homophones Examples

Vowels in English

A, E, I, O, U = Total 5

Consonants in English

B,C,D,F,G,H,J,K,L,M,N,P,Q,R,S,T,V,W,X,Y,Z = Total 21

Indefinite Article “A”

“A and An” are the indefinite articles in English Grammar. The article “A” is used before the noun beginning with a consonant sound.

Example 1: a book, a player, a year, a strike, a walk, a unit, etc.
Example 2: a European, a university, a union, a one-rupee note, a unique dress etc.

In the above examples, the indefinite article “A” is used before the nouns or the noun phrases – book, player, year, strike and walk that begins with a consonant sound whereas the other nouns or noun phrases as unit, European, university, union, one-rupee note, and unique dress, begin with a vowel – e, o, u, but their first sound is consonant. So, the article “A” is used before these words.

It creates a lot of confusion when the first letter of the word is a vowel but it sounds like a consonant. Most of the students get confused and they use the article “An” before these words. In the above example, the word “Unit” begins with a vowel, but the opening sound of the word is like a consonant. So be very careful about the vowels that sound like a consonant in some particular words. A few examples are given for your understanding in the following post.

List of Words beginning with a vowel but sounding like a consonant

Indefinite Article “An”

The article “an” is used before the noun beginning with a vowel sound.

Example 1: an apple, an egg, an island, an occasion, an umbrella, etc.
Example 2: an hour, an honest man, an MLA, an NCC cadet, an heir, an X-mas tree, an HMT watch, etc.

In the above examples, the indefinite article “An” is used before the nouns or the noun phrases – apple, egg, island, occasion, and umbrella, that begin with a vowel sound whereas the other nouns or noun phrases as hour, honest man, MLA, NCC cadet, heir, X-mas tree, HMT watch, begin with a consonant – h, m, n, x, but their first sound is like a vowel. So, the article “An” is used before these words.

The students are much confused when they look at such words that begin with a consonant but the opening sound of the word is like a vowel. In the above example, the word “hour” begins with a consonant, but the opening sound of the word is like a vowel. So be very careful about the consonant that either remains silent or sounds like a vowel in some particular words. A few examples are given for your understanding in the following post.

List of Words beginning with a consonant but sounding like a vowel

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