How To Use A And An In A Sentence

Updated Jan 29, 2023

How to Use "A" and "An" in a Sentence

Understanding when to use "a" and "an" in a sentence can be a source of confusion for many English learners. These two small words may seem insignificant, but they play a crucial role in creating grammatically correct sentences. In this blog article, we will explore the rules governing the use of "a" and "an" and provide examples to help you use them effectively.

The Rule

The basic rule for using "a" and "an" is determined by the sound that follows the article, specifically the sound at the beginning of the noun or adjective. Here's a simple guideline to remember:

  • Use "a" before words that begin with a consonant sound.
  • Use "an" before words that begin with a vowel sound.

It is important to note that it is not the actual letter that determines the article to be used, but the sound that the word begins with.


  1. A dog chased the cat. (dog starts with a /d/ sound, which is a consonant sound)
  2. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. (apple starts with a /æ/ sound, which is a vowel sound)
  3. She bought a new car. (new starts with a /n/ sound, which is a consonant sound)
  4. He is an honest man. (honest starts with an /ɒ/ sound, which is a vowel sound)


While the rule mentioned above is generally applicable, there are a few exceptions to keep in mind:

1. Words with Silent Letters

When a word begins with a silent letter, we consider the sound of the following letter to determine the article to be used. For example:

  • An hour passed quickly. (hour starts with an /aʊ/ sound, despite the silent "h")

2. Words Starting with "H"

Words that begin with an "h" can be a bit tricky. If the "h" is pronounced, we use "a" before the word. However, if the "h" is silent, we use "an." Consider the following examples:

  • She has a horse. (horse starts with a pronounced /h/ sound)
  • He ate an apple. (apple starts with a silent /æ/ sound)


Using "a" and "an" correctly is essential for constructing grammatically sound sentences. Remember that it is the sound, not the actual letter, that determines which article to use. However, be mindful of exceptions, such as words beginning with silent letters or "h." By following these rules and practicing with examples, you will soon become proficient in using "a" and "an" in your sentences. Keep practicing and your English skills will continue to improve!

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