a or an?

in a footnote on my previous post i stated that i had to make a correction throughout the post about the use of “an” instead of “a” before the abbreviation SUV.

what i found humorous was that the very next day on twitter @aadom asked a similar question. this was followed by quite a flurry of responses from the twitter grammarians in the crowd:

Aadom is it “an hypothesis” or “a hypothesis” 12:33 PM April 23, 2008
dustindk @Aadom a 12:32 PM April 23, 2008
abelara @Aadom use “an” only if the following word begins with a vowel 12:33 PM April 23, 2008
Aadom @dustindk but it’s “an historical event” not “a historical event” why’s that? 12:33 PM April 23, 2008
ianjukes @Aadom The answer is “an” if you want to use the Queen’s English. 03:33 PM April 23, 2008
ianjukes @Aadom @dustindk You are using American English go ahead and do whatever the hell you like. Like turn aluminium into aluminum. 🙂 03:35 PM April 23, 2008
dustindk @aadom looks like it’s disputed 12:36 PM April 23, 2008
ReneeAnn @Aadom I think the rule is whether you hear the h or not. an hour sounds same as our, so an goes with hour. 02:37 PM April 23, 2008
dustindk @aadom “a history of..” is “a” because the stress is on the first syllable. “An historic event” is “an because stress is on the 2nd syllable 12:38 PM April 23, 2008
abelara @Aadom i’ve never heard “an historical event”. sounds weird to me saying it. i had trouble yesterday with “an SUV” b/c of the “ess” sound 12:38 PM April 23, 2008
ianjukes @Aadom @dustindk It’s only disputed if you are American. Just remember it’s called English… you know… from England. 03:38 PM April 23, 2008
dustindk @aadom but I don’t know why, say/write whatever the hell you want 12:39 PM April 23, 2008
abelara @Aadom who knew twitter users were such grammarians! ! 12:40 PM April 23, 2008
ReneeAnn @abelara this is the biggest argument I’ve seen all day. lol 02:41 PM April 23, 2008
Aadom wow, asking a silly grammar question got so many more responses than asking a theological question… @chacha said both ‘an’ and ‘a’ are ok 12:42 PM April 23, 2008
abelara here’s the definitive answer from the “grammar girl – http://xrl.us/bjqjr – @aadom @dustindk @ianjukes @reneeann 12:46 PM April 23, 2008

in case you didn’t click the link above to read the article from the “grammar girl”, here’s her answer to the dilemma.
The rule is  that you use a before words that start with a consonant sound and an before words that start with a vowel sound (1)

so … i was correct all along in saying “an SUV”.

what i loved the most about this issue was i seeing the ebb and flow of the conversation on Twitter from people all over the US & world (@ianjukes is from England). from the moment the question was first asked 12.33pm (pst) there were 16 responses in 13 minutes time. truly amazing, and fun!

what kills me the most about this whole controversy is that now that i know the correct usage i can’t (or won’t) go back to the original post and change it back to the correct usage. if i did that then i’d have to erase the footnote along with it. then Cousin Jenn’s comment wouldn’t make any sense. and in fact this whole post wouldn’t be relevant at all – although it would still make sense.

so there you have it. a grammar lesson to make you feel smarter this weekend, another reason to join twitter, and another article to show that i haven’t neglected this blog entirely. 🙂

// today i’m thankful for:
1. the Grammar Girl
2. a night of sleep w/o interruptions
3. the details of God’s Word
4. seeing Rachel dance to Christian radio
5. seeing Julia dance to “Alvin and the Chipmunks

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