Regular English speakers will certainly be acquainted with exactly how to choose between the indefinite articles a and an: use a when the subsequent noun begins with a consonant sound and an once it starts with a vowel sound. In speech, you more than likely rarely make a mistake v these indigenous (such mistakes space awkward and sometimes an overwhelming to pronounce if you"re speaking quickly), but writers sometimes uncover themselves in a quandary.

You are watching: An unicorn or a unicorn

For example, also though the noun paragraph unicorn andumbrellabothbegin v the same vowel, u, onlyumbrella begins with a collection sound. We hence should compose an umbrella however a unicorn.

Here room some various other phrases that often tend to trip human being up. Deserve to you identify whether a or an would be the appropriate article in former of every phrase?

__ historic work

__ FBI agent

__ RNA strand

__ UFO

__ mtDNA study

You could be wonder what historical work is act on the list. ~ all, it doesn"t start with a vowel. Yet for some reason, many civilization get confused about words that start with h. Uneven you are among a subset of British people who pronounce historical as "istorical, however, the initial sound in this word is hhhh, for this reason it must be a historical work.

As because that the acronyms, the key is still to take into consideration the early sound the the term quite than the early stage letter. So it need to be an FBI agent and also an RNA strand because the early stage sounds are ef and are, respectively. Similarly, it need to be a UFO since the early stage sound is you, just as because that unicorn.

Note that if the writer expects readers to instead of the non-abbreviated kind of a word for its abbreviation, climate the together of the non-abbreviated form is the deciding factor. Because that example,mtDNA would certainly be pronounce mitochondrial DNA fairly than em-tee DNA. That would as such be suitable to write a mtDNA study.

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Again, it"s all around how that sounds, not exactly how it looks.

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Posted by Kerry Evans Kerry is the an elderly Managing Editor because that AJHG and Immunity. She i graduated from the university of Missouri-Columbia with degrees in journalism and biology and intended to get in scientific journalism. However, a love that editing and also a job offer indigenous 2175forals.com press snagged her in 2000, and she there is no looked ago since—at least not much and also not recently. She has 5 young children: one daughter and four sons. Among her plenty of pursuits room backpacking with her family, foraging because that wild foods, and creating (and eating) delicious food.