Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It's an 'Onour to 'Ear from You. FEEDBACK

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It's an 'Onour to 'Ear from You. FEEDBACK

Article excerpt


SO folks, it's back to what I like to think of as a topic gripping you all.

Well gripping a couple of you. OK, if not quite gripping you, then gently holding you.

Anyway, last week, you may recall, I mentioned how I'd been taken to task after we'd used a headline in which we said 'A historic...'.

A correspondent maintained it should have been 'An historic...' and said such errors made his blood boil. I stoutly defended ourselves, and said language evolves and changes over time, and what was once a hard and fast rule had changed.

Well, I'm pleased, no, make that bloody delighted, that a couple of you have been in touch.

Not only that, you both agreed!

This is important on a couple of levels; one, it proves someone actually reads this column, and two, I've somehow struck a chord with at least two of you.

So here goes, firstly, my thanks to the correspondent who wrote: "Hopefully this letter will enrage the anonymous writer whose blood is boiling, to such an extent that they do some research on grammar rules, instead of spouting gubbins.

"The rule for articles before an 'h' is pretty simple: if the 'h' is aspirated, meaning if it is sounded, then it is preceded by an 'a' - a hospital, a hostage, for example. If the 'h' is not sounded, then 'an' is placed before the word - it would be an honour, dinner will be an hour etc. Dead simple, right? 'An hotel' makes as much sense as 'an banana'."

And another of you wrote: "I was taught 'an' should be used before a vowel eg 'an apple' although I would mention that there is sometimes an exception, for instance the word 'unit' would be preceded by 'a' not 'an'. However, 'an' is never used before a consonant, unless with a silent 'h' eg 'an hour'.

"The Evening Chronicle is therefore correct. …

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