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Before we learn how to use ‘a’ and ‘an’ correctly, here’s a quick definition for vowels and consonants: In the English alphabet, vowels are A, E, I, O, U. All the other letters are consonants. Cool?

So you’ve been told to use ‘a’ before words starting with a consonant, and ‘an’ before words starting with a vowel.

That’s the correct way to use ‘a’ and ‘an’, right?

WRONG!

We use ‘a’ for words that begin with a consonant sound, and we use ‘an’ for words that begin with a vowel sound.

Let’s dig a little deeper.

When to use ‘a’: If a word begins with any of the consonant sounds, you should use ‘a’.
Eg: A bat, a dog, a table, a yoga teacher.

When to use ‘an’: If a word begins with any of the vowel sounds, you should use ‘an’.
Eg: An apple, an elephant, an iron rod, an officer.

There are two exceptions to this rule:

1. Some words that begin with a vowel have a consonant sound.
Eg: A one-bedroom apartment, a European, a university, a used car.

2. Some words that begin with a consonant have a vowel sound.
Eg: An hour, an honor, an honest driver, an honorable mention.

Again, you should use ‘a’ or ‘an’ depending on whether the word begins with a consonant sound or a vowel sound.

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