a / an honest boy || Indefinite article + adjectives beginning with "h"

  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    Welcome to the forum, Josephine Teo! This is a common question. I looked for a general summary but couldn't find one.

    "A" comes before words whose initial sound is a consonant. "An" comes before words whose initial sound is a vowel. It has to do with how we pronounce the word in English and not how it is spelled.

    Since the "h" is silent in honest the first sound is a vowel sound, which makes it "an honest boy". However, it would be "a happy boy" because we do pronounce the "h" in happy.
     

    jmichaelm

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I would say "an honest boy" and use the rule JamesM mentioned. I think there are some differences between BE and AE, but I can't recall a specific example at the moment.
     

    Adamante

    Member
    Italiano
    < This thread has been added to a previous discussion. Cagey, moderator. >

    Hello to all.

    Could anyone help me to remove a doubt, please.
    I could say that you are bright, exciting, honest.
    But if i said that you are "an honest man" ( i have
    found this translation both on worldreference
    dictionary and on the free dictionary website),
    i'd still have the doubt (is it correct!) that "h" is
    the 6th consonant of the English alphabet (not
    a vowel).
    Thanks in advance.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Adamante

    Member
    Italiano
    Thank you Thomas for your quick reply
    So, if i'm not mistaken, you are not sure about that (an+ honest+ noun).
    I'm accostumed to using the indefinite article "a" before hotel, so even
    an awful hotel (because there's an adjective beginning with a vowel).
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    We use "an" when the next sound is a vowel sound, regardless of spelling. Because the "h" in "honest" is silent, the spoken word begins with a vowel sound.

    Thus, "an honest man" is correct.

    Conversely, when the word begins with a consonant sound, including a "y" sound, we use "a:"

    "a university graduate"
     

    Adamante

    Member
    Italiano
    Thanks Florentia 52.
    Gently, if i don't disurb, could you list another illustrative example of
    consonant sound, combined to "a", please?
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thank you Thomas for your quick reply
    So, if i'm not mistaken, you are not sure about that (an+ honest+ noun).
    I'm accostumed to using the indefinite article "a" before hotel, so even
    an awful hotel (because there's an adjective beginning with a vowel).
    I'm entirely sure that we say an honest + noun. I'm sorry to have given any other impression.

    The h in hotel is aspirated.
     

    Adamante

    Member
    Italiano
    Very grateful, even to Andygc.
    Well, we use: an when the "h" is silent (an honest man, as a vowel sound) or
    when the accent falls on the 2bd syllabe (an historical background of the 11th
    century); while we use a when the "h" is aspirated (a hotel) or the accent falls
    on the 1st syllabe (a history of the Middle Ages).
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Ciao, Adamante.

    Do yourself a big favor and stick to the simpler, traditional, rule:

    A in from of a consonant sound
    AN in front of a vowel sound

    GS :)
     

    plshelpmetogetajob

    New Member
    Malay
    This question has been added to a previous discussion.
    Cagey, moderator


    "I want you to give me an honest opinion" or "I want you to give me a honest opinion"

    and please tell me the reason behind the answer. Thank you
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    plshelpmetogetajob

    New Member
    Malay
    ok so only because "h" is silent here....if I use another word where the first letter is a consonant and it is not silent, it'd need "a" instead of "an". am I correct?
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    ok so only because "h" is silent here....if I use another word where the first letter is a consonant and it is not silent, it'd need "a" instead of "an". am I correct?
    Yes. That is the rule in English. :thumbsup:

    Examples

    I want to buy a hand-drill. (The 'h' in 'hand' is sounded so you must use 'a')

    That is not an honest statement. (The 'h' in 'honest' is silent so you use 'an')

    You have to learn the words that begin with silent 'h'. There are not many of them.
     
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