Confusing Words Clarified
glossary of frequently confused words includes those I found most commonly misused in the worlds of business and writing. Some of the explanations follow the time-tested [correct] usage, some include a little of my personal preferences and some allow for recent changes in usage. You can use these explanations and examples as a guide that will be accepted by most writers and readers. The goal is to help you communicate clearly.
A is used in front of a word beginning with a consonant or hard sound.
Right: a horse, a cab, a donut, a historical, a heart, a headrest.
An is used before a vowel or soft sound.
Right: an onion, an honor, an apple, an heirloom, an hour, an heiress, an
The general rule for words beginning with an h is that if the h is sounded when speaking, use a; if the h is silent, use an. From a newspaper article: The church has a open membership and open communion.
Better: The church has an open membership and communion.
Better: The church has open membership and open communion