Why would “an mule” be used instead of “a mule”?

As generally agreed and as extensively discussed in this question, "an" should be used in place of the more common "a" where the following word begins with a vowel sound. I have just encountered for the first time an instance of the phrasing an mule in the book Why Chemical Reactions Happen (James Keeler and … Read more

Does a word that starts with a vowel letter start with a vowel sound?

I’m currently learning about consonant to vowel linking, and I’m wondering if it’s safe to assume that most words (if not all?) that start with a vowel letter (a, e, i, o, u) will also start with a vowel sound. Knowing this information will help me quickly identify whether a word starts with a vowel … Read more

When using symbols instead of words in writing, do I use “an” or “a” before the symbol?

The sentence in question: Every list item that is marked with an * is optional. The word “asterisks” isn’t spelled out, so I’m not sure if “an” or “a” is the correct word to put before it. Answer The usage should depend on how the symbol would be spelled out. For example * is an … Read more

Pronunciation of “the” before a long u sound

All my life I have been hearing and pronouncing /ði/(unstressed) in “the US”, “the UK” and “the UN”, but I’m not sure that was correct. How do you pronounce “the” before a long u sound? I searched questions and answers in this forum and over the Internet, but could not find any rules. Answer For … Read more

Is the “an” rule applied when a sum of money is in between?

Possible Duplicate: When should I use “a” vs “an”? I have recently seen this image: Should “a” have been used instead of “an” in the “…an $100,000 apartment” part? Answer The /ə ~ ən/ rule, like the /ðə ~ ði/ rule, depends completely on the individual sound that follows. What word starts with this sound, … Read more

Correct pronunciation of “the”

Possible Duplicates: Is pronouncing “The” as in “Thee” still correct in titles? What is the pronunciation of “the?” What would be the correct way to pronounce “the”? According to my Swedish-English dictionary at home, it follows the same rule as for the articles “a” and “an”. Is this really true in every situation? I’ve noticed … Read more

Is pronouncing “The” as in “Thee” still correct in titles?

When saying the title of JRR Tolkien’s masterpiece, which is the correct pronunciation (Yes, I know that they’re spelled wrong, but I’m trying to emphasize the pronunciation): Thuh Lord of thuh Rings Thee Lord of thee Rings Thuh Lord of thee Rings Thee Lord of thuh Rings I’m partial to the first pronunciation, but another … Read more

“A/An” preceding a parenthetical statement

When a/an precedes a parenthetical aside (sometimes seen in informal/conversational writing), should the vowel rule depend on the first word in parentheses, or the next word in the “regular” flow of the sentence? I need a (memorable) idiom (preceding an m word; use a) or I need an (memorable) idiom (preceding an i word; use … Read more