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Grammar and Style » General Reference » A vs. An » The Only Tricky Part

For most words, knowing whether to use "a" or "an" is fairly simple:

an apple
a dog
a rainy day
an elevator


There are only two tricky situations. The first is with words that begin with an "h" or a "u." These letters can have either a consonant sound or a vowel sound:

an umbrella
a hallway
a unicyle
an honest answer


The second tricky situation is when you use abbreviations, which can begin with a sound that is different from the letter they begin with:

an F.B.I. agent
a U.F.O.
an M.V.P. award


In either case, use "a" or "an" according to the beginning sound of the abbreviation or word.

A quick quiz


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