A/an: English teaching certificate

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Spanish (Spain)

My question is regarding the use of "a" and "an". I know the general rule about the vowel sound, but I am not sure as to whether I should attend to the first sound of the noun it refers to, or to the word that inmmediately follows. This is the sentence:

"He has obtained a / an English teaching certificate which has allowed him..."

My guess is that I should use an, such as in "an English man", "an English teacher", but I am not 100% sure.

I would also like to know if you would use capital letters for the words "teaching" and "certificate".

Thanks a lot!
  • Thenthroot

    New Member
    English - American
    You're right, you'd use "an." :)

    Whether or not use'd use capital letters is a complicated question; you would capitalize everything if there was something called an "English Teaching Certificate" - for example in the states we might say "He has a General Education Degree" because thats the actual proper name of a degree. If you don't know what the actual certificate is called, and you're saying only that it's a certificate that allows someone to teach English, then you wouldn't capitalize.

    Hope that helps!


    Spanish (Spain)
    Thank you for your fast reply, Thenthroot!

    The "English teaching certificate" is the translation for the Spanish "Certificado de Aptitud Pedagógica", and since it's not an established equivalent (at least not with the same exact characteristics as far as the lessons are concerned, even if the result is the same) I think I will stick with the small letters.

    Thanks again!


    Senior Member
    USA - English
    The choice of "a" or "an" has nothing to do with the word it modifies, but is determined entirely by the next word that follows:

    An ocean.
    A big ocean.
    An enormously big ocean.
    A really enormously big ocean.

    A piano
    An old piano.
    A useless old piano (remember that in English, "useless" begins with a consonantal "Y" sound)
    An exceptionally useless old piano.
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