1. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    I'm Welsh - and proud!

    An historical or a historical?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Thomas Kitchen, Feb 7, 2013.

    Please indulge me - is it an historical or a historical? Same goes for a history/an history. I've been pondering over it for months; people give me different answers (maybe it's personal preference?).

    Thanks. :)
     
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    'A historical'. When the indefinite article proceeds a word that starts with a vowel sound you are supposed to use an 'an' instead of an 'a', and the opposite is true of consonants.
     
  3. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    It is simple, before words starting with a,e,i,o you use an, anything else you use a.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'an' is often used with 'historical' since the 'h' is not heavily expressed... while in 'history' it is, so 'a' is mandatory...
     
  5. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^^ as above: "an" OR "a" historical... You can also have "an/a hotel".
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not true. If the word begins with a vowel sound, precede it with an, otherwise a.

    An honorable man is a hard thing to find.

    An FBI (pronounced eff-bee-eye) Special Agent will call on you shortly.

    Some words are pronounced differently by different people. Historical is one of the most common of these, with the H either silent or not.
     
  7. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's more complicated than it should be. In theory it's down to whether you (or the person speaking) pronounces the 'h' in 'historical'. But saying "an" with an aspirated 'h' has become a class marker in the UK (and maybe elsewhere). If you listen to Queen Elizabeth II you will note that she does it. So "Queen's English" has "an" before an aspirated 'h', "standard English" doesn't. What you do depends on what you want to say about the person speaking.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This reminds me of Monty Python:

    "... a license for my pet fish, Eric. He's an 'alibut."
    "What?"
    "He is an hhhhhhhalibut."

    :)
     

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