A/an: European - before semiconsonant /j/

  • Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Hmm, I suspect that your question is trickier than it would seem at first sight. The obvious answer is "a", but there is also the fact that many "small" words have more than one pronunciation in English.
    The definite article "a" may be pronounced [@] (schwa), or [ej]. The latter allomorph is used for emphasis. Assuming the second pronunciation, "a European" might be acceptable, I think.


    It's "a European", because the noun "European" starts with a consonant, [juru'pi:mad:n] (@=schwa).
    Anyway, here's an earlier thread that may answer your question.
     

    mazbook

    Senior Member
    United States/México, English
    Hola ampurdan:

    an agreement is correct

    a European is correct, but don't ask me WHY! :confused: I'm sure that someone, with more knowledge than I, will have an answer for you. Something to do with phonemes, probably.

    Saludos desde Mazatlán


     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Wait! Yes, there was a typo, or rather, some total nonsense in my previous post. I'm going to edit it! :eek:
     

    ampurdan

    Senior Member
    Català & español (Spain)
    Hola ampurdan:

    an agreement is correct

    a European is correct, but don't ask me WHY! :confused: I'm sure that someone, with more knowledge than I, will have an answer for you. Something to do with phonemes, probably.

    Saludos desde Mazatlán

    That makes sense, because if you say: "a wonderful agreement" and not "an wonderful agreement", being "w" here a semiconsonant as "eu" is in European, consistently, you should say "a European agreement".
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The key to this question is euphony.
    I don't care how you pronounce the word that follows the indefinite article. If you find it difficult to pronounce a followed by something, say an. The only purpose of the a or an variant is to make your life easy.

    So, I say a herb.
    The waitress in Boston said an 'erb.
    ... pause for wistful memories ...

    We were both correct.
     
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