“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

“Ate cheeseburger” or “ate a cheeseburger”?

Which of the following is correct? Ate a cheese burger last night. Ate cheese burger last night. Answer If there were an enormous cheeseburger and you cut it up and served pieces of it to separate people, then you could say you “ate cheeseburger” last night. Otherwise, cheeseburger is a count noun and you have … Read more

Are there any simple rules for choosing the definite vs. indefinite (vs. none) article?

I can’t for the life of me figure out where to use a and where to use the — and where there is no article at all. Is there a simple rule of thumb to memorize? The standard rule you always hear: “If a person knows which item you are talking about then use “the” … Read more

“Half an hour” versus “half hour”

I’ll be back in half an hour. I’ll be back in half hour. Which is the correct sentence? Are there any differences between British English and American English? Answer You could say “a half hour” or “half an hour”. The article choice depends on where in a phrase you place it. Would you ever say … Read more

Do you use “a” or “an” before acronyms / initialisms?

99% of the time, I’m clear on when I should use “a” versus “an.” There’s one case, though, where people & references I respect disagree. Which of the following would you precede with “a” or “an,” and why? FAQ FUBAR SCUBA [Note: I’ve read the questions “A historic…” or “An historic…”? and Use of “a” … Read more

“a” or “an” for words that don’t start with vowels but sound like they’re starting with a vowel

Is it correct to say or write an student or an store? Answer Always use an for words which sound like they start with a vowel, and always use a for words which sound like they start with a consonant. The rules for h are more complex, and it can be ok to use either. … Read more

When should I use “a” versus “an” in front of a word beginning with the letter h?

A basic grammar rule is to use an instead of a before a vowel sound. Given that historic is not pronounced with a silent h, I use “a historic”. Is this correct? What about heroic? Should be “It was a heroic act” or “It was an heroic act”? I remember reading somewhere that the h … Read more

When should I use “a” vs “an”?

In the following example, is it appropriate to use a or an as the indefinite article, and why? He ate __ green apple. I know that in the case of just “apple”, it would be “an apple,” but I’ve heard conflicting answers for “green apple,” where the noun is separated from the article by an … Read more