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Passions in Poetry

Proper usage of 'an'

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Aenimal
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0 posted 09-30-2004 08:16 PM       View Profile for Aenimal   Email Aenimal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aenimal


I've recently written the line 'A hesitant sun' however, my instincts tell me 'An hesitant' would be proper english. What is the rule? I know 'an' is used before a soft 'h' but what of hard h's?

Thanks in advance!
Mysteria
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1 posted 09-30-2004 09:29 PM       View Profile for Mysteria   Email Mysteria   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Mysteria

From http://www.englishplus.com/grammar/00000167.htm

A or An ?

The article a is used before consonant sounds; an is used before vowel sounds.


Words beginning with h, o and u sometimes begin with a vowel sound, sometimes a consonant sound.


Consonant Sound: a heroic couplet (h sound)

a once-happy lover (w sound)

a universal problem (y sound)


Vowel Sound: an honest man (no h sound)

an only child (o sound)

an unusual insect (u sound)


SEA
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2 posted 09-30-2004 09:36 PM       View Profile for SEA   Email SEA   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for SEA

'A hesitant sun'  sounds right. I just read in another thread they used 'a ice age'. It should be (at least to my ears) an ice age. For me, it's how it sounds LOL  
Larry C
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3 posted 09-30-2004 11:07 PM       View Profile for Larry C   Email Larry C   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Larry C's Home Page   View IP for Larry C

I think we may have a master teacher on our hands! An honestly I mean it.

If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane, I'd walk right up to heaven and bring you home again.

Not A Poet
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4 posted 10-01-2004 12:07 AM       View Profile for Not A Poet   Email Not A Poet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Not A Poet's Home Page   View IP for Not A Poet

I seem to recall from an old,old English class that a word beginning with h with its first syllable not stressed should also be preceeded by an instead of a: "an historical reference," for instance. It never sounded right to me though. I suppose it could just be my Oklahoma influence but I always liked SEA's explanation.

Pete
Aenimal
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5 posted 10-01-2004 05:02 PM       View Profile for Aenimal   Email Aenimal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aenimal

Wow, you guys work fast. Thanks everyone but you can see my confusion. Mysteria's link states an is used before a soft h:

an honest man
an hour

but Not a Poet is correct as well, 'an' is used before hard h's as well:

an historic

Is it a case of modern vs. old english? Shrugs
Essorant
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6 posted 10-02-2004 09:47 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

An becomes a for easier pronunciation before words beginning with consonant-sounds.  
It is smoother/easier to say "a dog" than "an dog"  
And it makes a difference in our speech considering how often we use an/a.  

Originally though, an was simply "one" in the same way as one (which comes from an) is "one" in our modern English; but also could be used to mean "alone," and "unique" in some contexts.  It was never used as an "article" as an/a today.  
A word just naturally might carry that aspect.
Thus hus "house" meant "house" but also meant "a house"

Essorant
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7 posted 08-11-2005 12:02 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Ab "from, away from" is similar in Latin.

It is usually a before words beginning in consonants:

Ab oriente   "from the east"

but:

A Deo  "from God"
Martie
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8 posted 08-11-2005 01:15 PM       View Profile for Martie   Email Martie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Martie's Home Page   View IP for Martie

I'm with Sea...when it sounds right, I use it the way it sounds right.  
Savage Quiescence
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9 posted 03-26-2006 10:23 PM       View Profile for Savage Quiescence   Email Savage Quiescence   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Savage Quiescence

Why do my teachers always make me change it to "an horrific event"? You pronounce the h in horrific, so wouldn't it be "a horrific event"?

www.livejournal.com/users/alimakins

Not A Poet
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10 posted 03-26-2006 11:14 PM       View Profile for Not A Poet   Email Not A Poet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Not A Poet's Home Page   View IP for Not A Poet

See the notes above. The first syllable in horrific is unstressed.
Essorant
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11 posted 04-09-2006 11:51 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Some words became a bit altered from this a/an business:

[From dictionary.com]

Apron:

[Middle English, from an apron, alteration of a napron, from Old French naperon, diminutive of nape, tablecloth, from Latin mappa, napkin. See map]


Adder

[Middle English, from an addre, alteration of a naddre, a snake, from Old English nędre, snake]


Newt

[Middle English neute, from a neute, alteration of an eute, variant of evete, from Old English efete.]


Nickname:

[Middle English neke name, from a neke name, alteration of an eke name : eke, addition (from Old English aca. See aug- in Indo-European Roots) + name, name; see name.]

[This message has been edited by Essorant (04-10-2006 12:40 AM).]

Essorant
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12 posted 06-08-2006 12:48 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Here's another one:

Notch

[Probably from a notch, alteration of an otch, from French oche, from Old French, from ochier, to notch.]

 
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