a apartment

EStjarn

Senior Member
Spanish
Here is an example sentence from a Collins dictionary on the word miss:

I could happily move back into a apartment if it wasn't for the fact that I'd miss my garden.

I haven't come across this before - the indefinite article a being used in front of words beginning with a - or have simply not noticed it. Since the dictionary entry on apartment uses an as indefinite article, I wonder whether in this case the use of a/an is optional or the use of a is to be considered a typo? (Googling a apartment yields some 400,000 hits, although not all of them relevant.)
 
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  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    There are few situations in which it is possible to say it here.
    ... back into a apartment ...
    - is a mistake, an error, wrong, not good English, not standard in any form of English.
    I hope I haven't understated this.

    It is useful to read some of the Google examples linked above.
    How many of these are from reputable native English sources?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    (Googling a apartment yields some 400,000 hits, although not all of them relevant.)
    Googling "an apartment" yields some 16.6 million hits so roughly 2% of the total hits are for the "typo". This is actually a fairly low number. I have done Google tests on typo'd phrases where the typo versions were over 25% of the Google hits.
    I also tried "b apartment" and "c apartment" which got 90,500 and 82,600 hits.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    What's more, if you click through to the end of the actual results (including the 'ones we originally omitted') the actual total is only about 1,000.
    Google always stops at 1,000. If you'd like something else interesting, you can page through "class a apartment" to 677. How can there be more "class a apartment" than "a apartment"? :)
     

    Big Hoser

    Senior Member
    English-Français
    This is "barely" hanging on to the original thread question, but I think it is close enough.

    "Class a apartment" can be seen many more times if you think of class a in the sense, the best, the A-grade of apartments. A class A apartment for rent.
    To most, that's incorrect anyway and would require a hyphen (class-A) but it explains the prolific occurrence versus the more erroneous "a apartment".

    I will second, third, fourth and push for final vote on panjandrum's emphatic "no", please "no", that's wrong.
    "... moving in to a apartment ..." = Bad.
     
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    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The relation to the original post is we're demonstrating how to use (or how not to use) Google results.
    Your logic is, um, ... less than perfect. Google totally ignores punctuation so the '-' is irrelevant. Every occurence of "class a apartment" contains "a apartment". The results for "a apartment" (570) should be a superset of "class a apartment" (677) + "a and a apartment locators" (25) + "find a apartment" (196) + ... Therefore, 570 = 677 + 25 + 196 + ...
     

    Big Hoser

    Senior Member
    English-Français
    I was under the impression people would be string-searching (with quotation marks to ensure the string is identically matched) to limit the number of unwanted hits. In which case, partial matches wouldn't appear. I'm aware of Google's punctuation thing, as it applies to email addresses as well. If it's not a result of string-searches, then I am as baffled as the rest.

    Also, the "hyphen" comment was to say that although you COULD find "a class A apartment" in searches, most English speakers would consider that wrong and hyphenate it to Class-A. The hyphen comment was not intended to refer to Google's search functions.

    If I'm completely wrong on the Google search, forgive me, I was not involved in that project. : )
     
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    mplsray

    Senior Member
    Since dictionary examples represent standard English dialects (unless specifically marked "nonstandard," "slang," or sometimes "regional") "a apartment" in a Collins dictionary entry would be an error.

    Nevertheless, I think it should be pointed out that "a apartment" is indeed grammatical in some nonstandard English dialects.
     

    Aidanriley

    Senior Member
    English
    Since dictionary examples represent standard English dialects (unless specifically marked "nonstandard," "slang," or sometimes "regional") "a apartment" in a Collins dictionary entry would be an error.

    Nevertheless, I think it should be pointed out that "a apartment" is indeed grammatical in some nonstandard English dialects.
    I find this sentence a bit perplexing; does a dialect using agrammatical English really constitute their English being "grammatical" within that specific dialect? I know that the speakers of a language determine how they are going to speak, and rules of grammar are built on top of that but I don't think you can find "a apartment" listed as grammatical in any credible English resource. It can be said that certain groups of people often commit this error, but grammatical? I don't think so...
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    I find this sentence a bit perplexing; does a dialect using agrammatical English really constitute their English being "grammatical" within that specific dialect? I know that the speakers of a language determine how they are going to speak, and rules of grammar are built on top of that but I don't think you can find "a apartment" listed as grammatical in any credible English resource. It can be said that certain groups of people often commit this error, but grammatical? I don't think so...
    If you do some research on the matter, you will find that linguists recognize that all dialects have rules of grammar and that a given usage can be judged grammatical or ungrammatical according to the rules of that dialect. I would be quite surprised if you could find any linguist who disagreed.

    My reason for posting was to ensure that the reader would understand this point. While panjandrum did mention that "a apartment" is "not standard in any form of English" his posts did suggest that it was "just a mistake." That is true if the writer intends to write standard English, which would be the case of the editor of a dictionary entry, but in some dialects "a apartment" perfectly conforms to that dialect's grammatical rules.

    I think it is important for those learning English as a second language, and those learning standard English as a second dialect to understand this. Among the latter group, it has definitely been demonstrated that such knowledge helps them to learn standard English.
     

    Aidanriley

    Senior Member
    English
    If you do some research on the matter, you will find that linguists recognize that all dialects have rules of grammar and that a given usage can be judged grammatical or ungrammatical according to the rules of that dialect. I would be quite surprised if you could find any linguist who disagreed.

    My reason for posting was to ensure that the reader would understand this point. While panjandrum did mention that "a apartment" is "not standard in any form of English" his posts did suggest that it was "just a mistake." That is true if the writer intends to write standard English, which would be the case of the editor of a dictionary entry, but in some dialects "a apartment" perfectly conforms to that dialect's grammatical rules.

    I think it is important for those learning English as a second language, and those learning standard English as a second dialect to understand this. Among the latter group, it has definitely been demonstrated that such knowledge helps them to learn standard English.
    Thanks for the clarification, mplsray, very useful :D. I was unaware that the term grammatical can be used more loosely to refer to norms of specific dialects in linguistic contexts.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    Would you care to name some/any of those dialects, MPLS?:)
    It's an annoyingly difficult thing to research on the Internet and find an example which is credible (because it was written by a dialectician or other linguist)--due in part to the fact that we're dealing with such a common word--and I thought I would end up having to go to the library. However, I finally came up with the following quote, via Google Books, from Mountain Life & Work, Volumes 37-38, by the Council of the Southern Mountains, Conference of Southern Mountain Workers, Council of Southern Mountain Workers (1961)

    page 8

    The Middle English preposition a (usually meaning on, in, by), the indefinite article a (never an!), the idiomatic use of a with all and numbers (as Chaucer used it) serve as cushions in keeping mountain speech flowing smoothly.
    It occurred to me that I have an acquaintance who might have personal experience with such a dialect, and I talked to him this evening about this matter of the article an being entirely avoided in mountain speech. He is from West Virginia, specifically from Summers County, and both his father and his father's parents did not use an in their speech.
     
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