1. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    a/an were/where and ";"

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Marcelo, Aug 6, 2008.

    I think this might become a problem. I know when to use which, but that's only because I feel it sounds right. Can someone explain me the rules of each of those, and the differences?

    a/an

    were/where

    ";"
     
  2. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    Unfortunately, my explanation of the mechanics are very poor, but here's what I know.

    "A" and "An" are used to denote a singular subject/item.
    Use "A" when the item after it begins with a consonant.
    A dog. I have a cat.
    Use "An" when the item after it begins with a vowel.
    An owl. I want to buy an orange.
    I'm prety sure there are exceptions to this rule when both would sound right.

    "Were" is the plural form of the verb was; indicative of "be".
    Use "were" when the subject of the sentence is plural.
    The cats were very cute.
    There were three dogs.

    While "Where" is used to inquire location.
    Where are we? Do you know where we are?

    The semicolon has many uses so you should try googling it, but here's two I can think of immediately:
    used to combine two related independent clauses (with or without a conjunctive adverb),
    I don't like apple juice; I like grape juice.
    I don't like you; however, I can get along with you.
    seperate groups of items in a list,
    dogs, cats, cows; parrots, sparrows; shark, swirdfish

    If you still can't understand then someone else is going to have to come in since I'm bad at explaining.
     
  3. J Done
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    J Done Member

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    Nilfiry has done well in explaining them there..

    A semicolon can be used to explain something in a second clause which you've stated in the first clause.
     
  4. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    I do not think I can add anything to this. It looks right and I believe it explains everything.

    Well done Nilfiry :)
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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  6. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Thanks! I already used them correctly, but that's because I... dunno, when I read it it just seemed right. The semicolon, however, is a different case. Only used it when Microsoft Word corrected me xD. Well, Thanks!
     
  7. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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  8. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    Is "an hour" an exception? I know that is a common mix up where I spend some time figuring it out.
     
  9. Jovian Temptations
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    Jovian Temptations Member

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    Yeah. The even more general rule is that if the word starts out with a vowel sound, use "an" (like hour, honor, etc.). A common mistake people make is not using it to denote a single consonant, like R (an R), H (an H), L, M, N (an L, an M, and an N), S (an S), and X (an X). THat's actually the complete list. But you only do that when you're talking about consonant all alone, or if you're doing an acronym that begins with one of those letters (an RPG), etc. I hope that makes sense.
     
  10. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would direct you to the link I posted above which discusses this precise issue.

    True Jovian. Thanks for helping Carthonn out. For more on acronyms and the 'an' vs. 'a' debate also see the above link.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no, it's not, since the 'h' is not pronounced...
     
  12. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Were can also be used like this.

    If you were going to go to Africa, where would you visit first?

    And not

    If you was going to go to Africa, where would you visit first?

    If I were to ask you out, would you say yes?
     
  13. Fatalism
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    Fatalism Member

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    Okay, first of all, 'a' and 'an' are arictles. Both being indefinite.

    When do you use 'a' and 'an'?

    You use 'an' only when the next word is an vowel. (A I E O U)

    I bought a umbrella - doesn't work.
    I bought an umbrella- does work.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    "It's an honor meeting you."
    "Is that an ytterbium rod?"
    "Rain says she saw a UFO last night!"
    "Sheila's really an FBI agent?"
    "I am writing a SQL script." (when SQL is pronounced SEE kwel)
    "I am writing an SQL script." (When SQL is pronounced ESS kew ell - both pronunciations are correct)

    It isn't strictly whether the word begins with a vowel, but whether it is pronounced beginning with a vowel sound."
     
  15. TimWesson
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    TimWesson Member

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    Marcelo,
    I don't have anything more to add to that already laid out in the previous posts; however, I just want to point out something. If you have been using each correctly as you've said, merely sensing that something's right, provided it is, is perfectly fine!

    You learnt how and when to use each of the above at an early age, and practiced them until they became an automatic action; a process at the subconscious level. The reason you haven't been using semicolons is because, in my experience, a lot of kids aren't taught to use them often enough; the subconscious doesn't learn to automatically use them. Use it long enough though, and it'll seem as natural as the others.
     

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