Choice Words

A or An ?

Today I’m featuring another post I published on my previous blog one year ago. The post has aged, but the lesson is timeless.

*This originally appeared on my previous blog on November 5th, 2014

Today, while I was catching up on episodes of The Tonight Show (hey, I’m doing that now!) and eating lunch, I opened this game on my phone – it’s called Compulsive – and was browsing its features. I clicked on the “Awards Page” and a hover over one of the awards produced the image shown below. First of all, an app/smartphone game that gives the user an award – that cannot be put on a resume, mind you – for an hour straight?!? Yikes. But I’m not here to discuss the problems with doing that, I’m here to discuss the error that appears in the caption, which I will take a second to show you now:

Google Play - A Hour

“A hour.” I hope that when you say it out loud, it sounds odd to you. Because it is not correct.

When deciding to use “a” or “an,” take a look at your next word. Usually you can tell by looking at the first letter of the word; if it’s a vowel, use “an.” A consonant, use “a.”

EXCEPT: the rule of “a” or “an” really applies to the sound of the first letter. The above image from the seemingly popular game in Google’s Play Store is the best example of this. Although “hour” begins with a consonant, this is one of those “trickster” English words that starts with a silent letter. Since it is pronounced “our,” “an” is the correct article to use. Therefore, the above image should read: “Play for an hour…” and my recommended ending would be “…if you feel like wasting part of your day by mindlessly connecting blocks of the same color.”


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