Friday, June 18, 2010

One Rule I Refuse to Follow


by M A N @roquesdoodle

I don’t rant very often, but when I do, it’s because of something that irritates me to the Nth degree. No, it’s not about the BP oil spill or the slow creep of genuine insanity into our world of politics. It’s about grammar. So, to those of you who are bored easily, fair warning.

There are quite a few writers whom I respect not only for their views and insights, but for the gifted way they express themselves. However, several months ago I began to notice that many of my favorite bloggers have been using the articles “a” and “an”--especially “an”-- in a way that makes my teeth grind. Allow me to explain.

--BEWARE! Grammar ahead!--

Let’s look at this simple sentence:

That is a cat.

This is one of the simplest sentence structures in the English language. We have our noun (“That”), our verb (“is”), while “cat” serves as our predicate nominative. What about “a” you ask? “A” is an article (one of the three: “a”, “an”, and “the”). Articles fall under the adjective category, which makes sense since they are words that modify nouns or pronouns. In this instance, it’s modifying the word “cat.” It’s “a cat.” Now let’s look at this sentence:

That is an octopus.

Notice how we changed the article from “a” to “an?” The reason for this is that the word octopus begins with a vowel sound. And that’s the funny thing about the articles “a” and “an.” It’s the phonetics of the word the article is modifying that determines which is the correct article to use. If the modified word begins with a consonant sound, we use the article “a”, as in “a cat.” If the modified word begins with a vowel sound, we use the article “an”, as in “an octopus.” Easy, right? I mean, this is a concept that most English speakers grasp in grade school.

Now, this is where things start to get fucking annoying.

Let’s look at this sentence:

That is an ugly octopus.

For those of you who had to diagram sentences back in the day, you know that even though the word “ugly” comes between “an” and “octopus,” “an” still modifies the word “octopus” and not the word “ugly.” Unless you’re a cat using LOL speak, it’s “an octopus” and not “an ugly.” However, the phrase still flows because “ugly,” the word that immediately follows “an,” also begins with a vowel sound. But lately I have been seeing many writers doing things like this:

That is an beautiful octopus.

...

Hold on, I need a minute. Just typing that makes me want to run through the streets, kicking old ladies.

...

Okay, let’s look at that horrid fucking sentence again, shall we?

That is an beautiful octopus.

So here’s my problem. When reading that, let alone speaking that, I find the sentence clunky, awkward, and that it takes me out of the reading experience entirely. Yet, technically, the above sentence is correct. “An,” our article acting as an adjective, is still modifying the word “octopus” and not the word “beautiful.” Because “octopus” begins with a vowel sound, we must use “an,” regardless of the phonetics of the word immediately following the article.

Personally, I believe the sentence should read: That is a beautiful octopus. For me, the article should be determined by the phonetics of the word that immediately follows it, NOT the word it modifies. The rules of English grammar disagree.

And I hate it.

I mean with a drag-it-into-the-middle-of-the-street-so-the-whole-neighborhood-can-watch-me-skull-fuck-it-like-I-was-a-sailor-on-shore-leave kind of hate.

Let me be the first to say that I am no grammarian. Even though I have a degree in English Education and spent a year teaching High School English, I am not impervious to mistakes. Just ask my editors. There’s a reason I keep a copy of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style and The Beacon Handbook within arm’s reach. And I would never deign to tell other writers to refrain from following that rule, no matter how much I feel it might stain their otherwise pristine prose.

But for myself, it is a rule I refuse to follow.

67 comments:

Lydia said...

I am 100% baffled by this post. People DO that? Really?

Matthew E said...

I have no reference material handy, but I have a hard time believing that that's actually a rule. Surely the determination of whether "a" or "an" is used depends on what the next word is and not what the noun is. Doesn't it? Wouldn't make any sense otherwise. The only reason we have two different indefinite articles is to make our sentences sound right; why would we have a rule that would make our sentences sound wrong?

Iain said...

That's ... just wrong.

There is no rule that says you should use "an" even when there's an intervening adjective. It's a phonetic decision, much like changing je to j' in French before a verb starting with a vowel. The entire point of the a/an distinction is to make the sentence sound better; if your grammatical rules make your sentence sound awful, then you are using the wrong grammatical rules.

Also, articles are not adjectives.

Strunk and White is actually, from a linguistic perspective, a rather terrible book. Geoffrey Pullum over at Language Log has a bunch of good posts about it: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001803.html, for example.

John said...

This is a real rule of grammar? Are you sure? All the online resources I've found disagree -- you use the indefinite article based on phonics, not sentence structure:

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/591/01/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_articles#Discrimination_between_a_and_an

http://www.usingenglish.com/glossary/indefinite-article.html

So please, don't get MAD anymore, M.A.N. :).

Sean Fagan said...

"an" doesn't modify "octopus"; it refers to it. The rules of English grammar include "'a' followed by a vowel sound becomes 'an'." (Although "an harmonica" looks weird, if you don't pronounce the 'h' it still works.)

For real fun, consider Gaelic, with rules about aspirating and vowel modifications. I never could get a hang of it.

Michael Alan Nelson said...

Matthew, I whole-heartedly agree. But what I noticed was that these writers who have a firm mastery of the language were making these "mistakes." And I had no idea why. That's when I noticed that they were using the article based on the word it modified, not the word that immediately followed. Now, it's quite possible that it isn't an official rule, but the consistency of it happening makes me suspicious (and incredibly annoyed). Why are all these writers doing this if they haven't been taught to do so? I'm just as baffled.

DonBoy said...

The only thing you're wrong about is the statement that "an beautiful octopus" is even "technically" correct. If the people you're reading are native speakers of English, I'd suspect editing errors caused by rearranging the words of a sentence on the fly, rather than deducing that there must be a "real rule" of English grammar that, as you say, is contrary to every single use of a/an you've read in your entire life.

(Or maybe they're deaf. I learned from Law and Order once that deaf people often get this wrong, since it's based on sound.)

Rich said...

That is an great observation!

Anonymous said...

The article, in the "beautiful octopus" example, is actually in charge of referring to the whole phrase, which is why you would write "a beautiful octopus" and not "an beautiful octopus."

Sherri said...

I sympathize so much. I worked for many years as a tech writer and executive assistant, during which time I was responsible for how my employer appeared in print. So, I pay close attention to little things like grammar and punctuation.

I've noticed a rising trend on a lot of respected online news sources (like Slate and Salon). They have dispensed with any copy editing or proofing. What pours out of a writer's head goes straight through the internet and lands in front of a few million eyes in all its glorious nonsense.

Aside from rampant apostrophe abuse, I've seen a lot of sentence fragments, comma splices, repeated text, and a number of other things that not only create confusing as to what the writer meant, but diminish any sense of authority or reliability. Word misuse is a critical fault. (Spelling errors I can forgive -- typos plague us all.)

My latest rant-worthy is fewer/less confusion. I've witnessed this mistake in nationally televised commercials as well as in otherwise intelligent reporting and blogging. It's pretty simple, too -- few and fewer are used with plural nouns. Less is used with singular nouns. Fewer mice. Less mouse. Fewer noises, less noise.

We are more and more dependent on text for communication as the internet takes over from other sources, and yet clear and precise use of the written word is given less importance.

I could rant on this for quite a while, but I think I'll just eat some chocolate.

Doug Warren said...

I agree with you...but that doesn't get us anywhere. While attaining my technical writing degree I often clashed with professors over what I termed "appropriate" language and grammar. They were sticklers for the rules and I was a stickler for context and clarity. Believe me, it cost me some grades, but I never budged. IMHO each one was being a pedantic asshole. (oops, I did it again)

Mooney said...

I seem to remember a tale about two grammarticians who attempted to compile a definitive book containing all the rules and exceptions-to-rules used in english. They got to about 5000 pages, still weren't close to being finished, and gave up.

Which is to be expected when we're talking about a language invented by Norman men-at-arms while attempting to seduce Anglo-Saxon barmaids.

My favorite "oh god it's technically correct but I hate it" example of this is the term "an eunuch".

Rob said...

The rules of grammar say no such thing. The choice of "a" or "an" is entirely euphonious, and emphatically not syntactic. "A" and "an" are syntactically the same word.

The distinction is a feature of spoken English simply because using the wrong one generates a break in fluency so ears-bleedingly awkward that I'd bet almost nobody who gets this wrong in print actually does so in speech.

In print this translates into an idiosyncratic consistency. The choice between "a" and "an" is made as if the sentence were being spoken aloud, and is thus dictated by the following word regardless of syntactic considerations.

In this case, your intuitions are leading you exactly right.

james young said...

I'm with Matthew E & John - John beat me to posting a couple of links. It's about the next word.

xs said...

I was taught English in an English school in England and am pretty sure I never came across "an beautiful octopus". This is one time when I'm tempted to say, just go with the wikipedia version.

Alternatively, work around the rules. That octopus is beautiful!

Josh K-sky said...

I defy you to produce a rule that would suggest "an beautiful octopus."

Anonymous said...

The rules of English grammar certainly do not force you to say "an beautiful" anything. Not the prescriptive rules that give us "an historical" nor the actual rules that people normally follow.

Shelly said...

I don't remember any such rule, but it has been a while since I learned grammar back in the early-'60s. I remember learning you use "an" before a word starting with a vowel sound. Words beginning with H were iffy, depending on how they're pronounced.

In a way, if it makes you feel any better, perhaps we can consider "beautiful octopus" (or even the ugly one) to be a compound noun of sorts, because the an wouldn't be modifying any old octopus but that beautiful one.

I've seen this abomination recently, too, and I had no idea what caused it. An beautiful anything is worse than fingernails on a chalkboard. Ick and ouch!

Tom said...

Yeah, that's pretty foul and foolish. Wonder if they think we're impressed with their erudition?

The one that makes me rage right now is this: "Police officer, John Fowler said in a later . . . " One comma only, not indicating a clause, not indicating a breath should be taken. Why is it there? I dunno, and no one can tell me, but it's there a lot in print out here in the west.

Hamilton-Lovecraft said...

I defy you to show me that rule.

I agree with DonBoy that what's going on is that people are rewriting sentences in haste, first writing "that's an octopus" then going back to add "beautiful" without a re-read.

TheRabbi said...

Well, actually...

1) As we linguists see it, 'a'/'an' is a determiner. (There's no such thing as an 'article' in modern syntactic theory.) It is not an adjective. And it does not modify 'octopus' (in the sentences you gave).

2) If you see this consistently, then, for some speakers, the rule of which allomorph to use for 'a'/'an' depends on the head noun of that determiner phrase (you can think 'noun phrase'), not on the next word. Which may not be a part of standard written English, or formal English, or mainstream English, but is obviously correct somewhere where it's being used. That's an important difference. Talking about 'right' and 'wrong' here is misguided - you need to talk about 'grammatical' and 'ungrammatical' and realize that the rules may be different for different varieties of English.

This isn't to say that it's acceptable to, say, turn in a paper in school in a variety of English that is not standard written English. But it is to say that this construction is not wrong, perhaps simply inappropriate.

3) I think it's far more likely a typo created by writers going back to insert adjectives and not adjusting the determiner when needed. I'm not sure why you would insist, then, that this is a rule, and, more confusingly, that someone is compelling you to follow it.

I see that someone has already posted the obligatory Language Log link. It's a good post, and funny too. I suggest you read it.

Anonymous said...

First, most of what you said in this blog or post or whatever you want to call it is correct, right up to the part about the adjectives modifying the noun and the related articles that are supposed to agree with it. As a former English major I have to interject. "An" or "A" modify FIRST the adjective and then SECOND the noun itself based on phonetics. That is a beautiful octopus is actually correct and the reason it is correct is because "A" modifies the adjective which describes the noun. If there isn't an adjective to describe the noun, then this rule does not apply. I concur that you are upset with writers, bloggers and random people who abuse the phonetic flow of sentences, but you are wrong about them being right. Ironic isn't it? Just get upset at them misusing articles because they are wrong. For anyone else reading this post, I may as well expound on this. They're refers to THEY ARE. There refers to a place, such as "put it over there" and Their refers to a possession of two or more people e.g. "Steve and Amy aren't home. I know this because I stopped by their house".

We also should be familiar with how to use verbs. For Christ's Sake stop saying things like "I is" and "We is". It is "I am" and "We are" Is is used in 3rd person such as he, she, and it or in the predicate form of one's self which is actually referring to the 3rd person once again. He is going there. The dog is on a leash. That is mine. Am refers to only yourself in the subject. I am here. I am done. I am sick of people born in the United States who cannot speak proper english. Are is the plural form in the nominative case of the word "is" and it also the form which the word "you" takes whether "you" is singular or plural e.g. They are, you are, we are.

When it is a possessive pronoun, the rules change a little once again. Ours is, Theirs is, His is, Hers is, yours is, and so forth. "Mine" follows the same function however, it follows a slightly different path. The object of the verb comes before the verb and the subject follows the verb. That is mine. "that" is the object which the verb refers to, however, so is "mine" since they are the same thing, however, the possessive pronoun takes an accusative form. Another way of stating the same thing would be to say "That is my book" or even "My book is that THERE. You must always put an adverb referring to a place should you decide to rearrange the sentence structure.

Stop, for the love of God, butchering our language.
-Jeremy F. Thanks

Bob said...

Thanks to the Internet, I've seen an amazing variety of grammatical/ syntactic outrages (and have been guilty of a few myself). But never have I seen a construction like "an beautiful octopus" until just now, in your blog post. I mean, never.

Where have you seen this stuff?

George Austin said...

Urge to say mean things about E.B. White rising. Hey - this is upsetting because he's otherwise pretty alright, alright?

Geoffrey Pullum is the bee's knees. Thanks for mentioning his language log, Iain. Here's a greatest hits-style article explaining you should consider banishing The Elements of Style from your reach: http://chronicle.com/article/50-Years-of-Stupid-Grammar/25497

Mac said...

Since the rule is 'use `an` if the word it refers to starts with a vowel SOUND', surely you can't be sure if they are wrong or right unless you know how they pronounce words?

For example - the simple word 'herb'.

For most humans who speak English, this does not start with a vowel sound any more than 'house' does.

Yet some people with a speech defect pronounce it as 'Erb' - so should they use 'an' or 'a'?

How do you know the people who use the phrase 'an beautiful octopus' don't have a speech defect too ?

athenethegoddess02 said...

Oh, Lord, do I totally understand what you're saying.

I hate how most young people these days just CAN'T seem to understand grammar and proper punctuation! Makes me want to slap the upside the head with a dictionary/thesaurus. I mean, hello! Spellcheck anyone?

I'll admit to failing grammatically occasional, but I do tend to proof-read things before posting.

Anyhow, thanks for the post, it entertained me most thoroughly.

Casey

Anonymous said...

You are (were?) so funny on that grammar "issue" I read it twice and was laughing out aloud! So, for me it's like this: a,e,i,o,u = an (kind of go with the flow too;)) If it rolls of my tongue in a erm "nice way" then it should be okay lol. Oh there's an exception for the article uniform, i would say "That's a ugly uniform" and "That's a beautiful uniform" or just "That's a uniform."

Anonymous said...

Okay, trying again here! That's my (PuspaV) post right above. Why Anon lol!
Says i wasn't subscribed - well don't remember "unsubscribing" but i have just sort of subscribed again!

Andrew Bellware said...

I agree that "That is a beautiful octopus" is correct.

I suspect the reason you're seeing "That is an beautiful octopus" is a problem with proof-reading rather than grammar. My guess is that if you looked at earlier versions of the script you would have seen that the sentence read "That is an octopus."

Later, the writer added "beautiful" but didn't re-check the grammar (and of course the spell-check didn't find anything wrong either.)

That's my theory about why you might be seeing this mistake so often. Just because a writer is good with grammar doesn't mean they're good at proofreading. ;-)

Mike Cane said...

What I've seen mostly with nitwits who are all tech-y and no write-y is they can't get this sentence correct:

"John used to run X BBS."

They do:

"John had ran X BSS."

GAH!!!

Let me not even get started on the tech writing I once encountered that was infested with what the person called "reading commas."

And what happens when FUBARed lines get through in film/TV? Hey, Doc Brown, I thought it was "GIG-a-watts," not "JIG-a-watts."

And then there was an episode of a show where a character called a "perimeter" a "PERRY-meter."

And has Linda Ellerbee yet lived down "Archie P. Lago"? (Archipelago. Well, she's Linda Ellerbee, so she probably has!)

Anonymous said...

An beautiful octopus is squirting in the eye of the beholder.

Anonymous said...

Definitely "a beautiful octopus", and as others have commented, "an beautiful octopus" suggests an adjective inserted later.

I am mildly astonished this hasn't devolved into a debate over the correct plural of "octopus". Mildly astonished, but grateful (if a little disappointed).

Also:

"... few and fewer are used with plural nouns. Less is used with singular nouns. Fewer mice. Less mouse. Fewer noises, less noise."

Man, don't I know it. One of the reasons I shop at one local grocery store (Heinen's in Cleveland) is because they have a "twelve items or fewer" line rather than the more common "twelve items or less". It's not the main reason I shop there, but it's a welcome bonus not to feel like I'm giving my money to illiterates.

Jed said...

There are also contexts in which Internet-speak leads people to use "an" before a word that doesn't start with a vowel sound.

So it's possible that people writing things like "an beautiful octopus" were joking or playing around with language, in much that same way that people often intentionally write "teh" instead of "the" these days (in some contexts).

But I think the explanation others have suggested (inserting the adjective and forgetting to change "an" to "a") is probably the likeliest explanation for most cases.

Btw, I agree with everyone else that the standard rule has everything to do with the initial sound of the following word, and nothing to do with what noun is being modified.

Liz said...

It may well be that you are seeing more of this because of sloppy editing, but I suspect there's some monkey see monkey do going on, too. One person reads "an pretty octopus" in an online blog and pretty soon they're following suit because they don't have a strong knowledge of grammar. I've seen this happen a few times in online communities, including a weird outbreak of the improper use of the word "would".

The Webb said...

Wow. 33 comments on something that is actually less interesting and/or controversial than "Which version of D&D is better". I'm amazed. Slightly, anyway.

gih said...

Haha, Some do and some are not.

Red said...

@ Sherri:

What pours out of a writer's head goes straight through the internet and lands in front of a few million eyes in all its glorious nonsense.

That is a great sentence.

wv: nicati -- what they put in cigarettes in Caprica

Anonymous said...

You have my sympathies. I read less frequently on on the internet these days because incorrect word use DRIVES ME CRAZY! My current head-explosion-causing irritant is "would of" for "would've/would HAVE". Oh my God, it makes me mad just thinking about it. I'm trying to make of point of at least visiting sites that I know have writers that use correct grammar.

diannelamerc said...

Fortunately, you're incorrect: The indefinite article (a/an) does indeed modify the noun. However the form it takes is dependent on the word directly following it, not on the noun.

"an ugly ---"/"a beautiful ---"

It doesn't matter what the noun is. That's the rule, and that's why your "an beautiful octopus" sounds--and *is*--wrong. :)

--GrammarGeek and Professional Editor and Proofreader

Geoff Thorne said...

The really sad part of all this is English and I have lunch once a week and she speaks SO highly of you, Mike.

She's always going on and on about how what an charming essayist you are.

What can I do to get you crazy kids together?

LarryFleming said...

I ain't never seen no beautiful octopus.

Is this an article about articles?

With everyone using some type of short hand so that they can chat on Twitter, this is what bugs you?

I h8 wht ppl do 2 the language. LLAP LOL

Sean Hansen said...

@Larry: I'm more concerned by people who corrupt idioms. It's "I COULDN'T care less" not "I COULD care less." Makes me want to stick needles in my eyes. They make the people who say irregardless, perse, and perchance on a regular basis forgivable.

Also just for the record: "an" isn't all that present in spoken English anymore. Primarily because "a" doesn't sound like the traditional "a is for apple", but rather an "uh" sound. So the two kind of run together when writing dialog.

Chris Anthony said...

@Michael: The commenters are, of course, correct. The indefinite article (or determiner, if you're into one flavor of modern language theory) changes based on the phonetics of the word that follows it. The otherwise-good writers who use "an beautiful octopus" have almost certainly written "an octopus" and then felt that they needed to modify "octopus" while forgetting to change the article.

@Sherri, that's not quite correct regarding fewer/less. "Less" is used with non-count nouns or count nouns in a non-count context; "fewer" is used only with count nouns in a count context (that is, where the number of units is important). In other words:

"This glass contains less water than that glass." - "water" is non-count, so it takes "less".

"I put less than eight ounces of water into this glass." - "ounces" is a count noun, but it's in a non-count context - the units don't matter.

"I put fewer than eight ounces of water into this glass." - "ounces" is a count noun, and in a count context - I put a specific number of ounces of water into the glass, numbering at least one and no more than seven.

For nouns more concrete than water (which can't really have a non-count context except in weird circumstances), like "pluots" or "orangutans", the distinction is rather easier to draw. :)

@Sean Hansen: entertainingly, your "traditional 'a is for apple'" contains no fewer than four "a" sounds: "ah" as in father, "uh" (schwa), "ay" as in "plane", and, well, "aa" as in "apple". :)

NG said...

Couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

Chris Anthony: I'm going to tie this into chemistry, and the trouble people have understanding "a mole of water" (or "a mole of" whatever else). A mole = 6.023*10^23 of something, and generally the mole is used for counting molecules. Chemists will speak of "a mole of water", by which they mean that many water molecules, but it confuses the hell out of beginning chemistry students because it scans the same as "an ounce of water" or "a glass of water". Back at my alma mater, a chemistry prof had to confabulate with a linguistics prof to figure out why this was causing such trouble for his students.

Sprite said...

I'd always learned it as a,e,i,o,u gets "an". And you say that once an hour. You know, because sometimes "h" is a vowel. The English lanuguage changes rules just to keep teachers in business.

Anonymous said...

Dummy Subject Dummy on determiners like "an" and "that"

That that that an that that an user says is grammatical is actually grammatical is hard to understand is all that I am saying.

Wait, if "an user" were a "that user" is even worse!

That that that that that that that user says is grammatical is grammatical is hard to understand is all that I am saying.

Anonymous said...

More by Dummy Subject Dummy on determiners like "an" and "that"

I forgot to mention a that in the previous post. I'm very sorry for tarnishing the discussion with mots that were less than perfect.

That that that that that that that that that user says is grammatical is grammatical is hard to understand is all that I am saying was what I meant to say.

Anonymous said...

Sprite: it's not a spelling thing, it's a pronunciation thing. Examples, and they all have to do with the sound of what follows the indefinite article rather than the spelling:

- an unionized atom (un-ionized)
- a unionized worker (union-ized)
- an SQL statement ("SQL" is spelled out)
- a UK import ("UK" is spelled out)

Caravelle said...

Oh come on. How does English grammar say that "This is an beautiful octopus" is correct ? Is that the same moronic "grammarians" who think "To boldly go" is incorrect ? Those who decided to stick a "b" in "debt" and "doubt" ? Why do you people even pay attention to those clowns ?

Funny thing by the way : I had to look at the wikipedia article on, um, articles recently and did you know that the "n" in "an" is mobile ? Like words like "a nurse" used to be "an urse", and "uncle" has switched between that spelling and "nuncle".
That's just awesome !

Laroquod said...

There is no rule of grammar I have ever heard of that would make "an beautiful octopus" correct. I suspect this is the result, rather, of the law of unintended consequences. As in, what happens when you give people infinite power to interpose adjectives carelessly into a sentence that was already written?

Typos, that's what. You're talking about typos.

Anonymous said...

Agree 100%. The bigger problem I have with 'a' and 'an,' though, is when people say or write things like 'an hypocrite.'

I understand completely, if you're British. You should obviously be saying 'an hypocrite' because you pronounce 'hypocrite' and 'ip-o-crit.' (Or somewhere thereabouts.) I, however, along with everyone I know who irritates me by doing this, am American. We pronounce our h's. So we say 'hip-o-crit.' Noticeable, breathy 'h' sound before the vowel at the beginning. Why does any logical American think 'an hypocrite' sounds good or reasonable or proper in our accents?

I really like the music and vocals on the song "Fake It" by Seether, but I have had to stop listening to it because every single time the singer says the lyrics "You're such an hypocrite" in the chorus, I grit my teeth and go a little crazy. They're a South African band, but he's pronouncing 'hypocrite' the American way, breathy 'h' and all. And he's saying 'an' before it. It kind of makes me hate him.

Anonymous said...

..."That" is not a noun in the sentence "That is a cat." It is a demonstrative pronoun. Perhaps you meant subject?

And yes, that's been bothering me much more than the "an," which I suspect to be a typo. But aren't you pleased that the rule you loathed didn't exist?

Gordon said...

an beautiful octopus is simply wrong.

The rule is that the word following the a/an is used, not the noun they are referring to.

Just because you are finding people who don't know how to use it, doesn't make it correct (until enough other people keep making the same mistake and it becomes an evolution of the language). Maybe those writers need to study English again?

Lady Killa said...

Even I don't write like that... and I speak Spanish.
:P

RevTrask said...

I thought a "grammarian" was an expert on grammas...

Yes, that did suck out loud. I'm really just commenting here as a means to remember what the hell my password is.

Kate said...

As a fellow grammar nazi of the flow-oriented persuasion, I think you might enjoy the poetic stylings of Taylor Mali on youtube, he has a number of very amusing and interesting videos. This one is all about the proofreading. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OonDPGwAyfQ

Anonymous said...

Here what i found -> vision correction

Mouse said...

I am new to commenting on blogs, but I just fournd this one and wanted to say I totally agree with you. Oh, the things we type! HAHA!

In this day and age, with all the technology we have available at our fingerprints, why can't grammer be more accurate? (Sigh)

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Ajat Kurniawan said...

Hi... I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

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Pengobatan Bisul Kutil Kelamin
Obat Jengger Ayam Paling Ampuh
Obat Kutil Kemaluan

reham magdy said...

شركة تنظيف خزانات
شركة تسليك مجارى
شركة رش مبيد بالرياض
شركة مكافحة الحشرات بالرياض
تنظيف فلل بالرياض
تنظيف شقق بالرياض
تنظيف منازل بالرياض
افضل شركة تنظيف فلل بالرياض
شركة تنظيف موكيت بالرياض
شركة تنظيف مجالس بالرياض
افضل شركة نظافة بالرياض
شركة تنظيف بيوت بالرياض
شركة عزل خزانات بالرياض
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالرياض
شركة تخزين اثاث
شركة نقل اثاث الرياض
شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالرياض
كشف تسربات المياه
كشف تسربات

reham magdy said...

شركة تنظيف خزانات
شركة تسليك مجارى
شركة رش مبيد بالرياض
شركة مكافحة الحشرات بالرياض
تنظيف فلل بالرياض
تنظيف شقق بالرياض
تنظيف منازل بالرياض
افضل شركة تنظيف فلل بالرياض
شركة تنظيف موكيت بالرياض
شركة تنظيف مجالس بالرياض
افضل شركة نظافة بالرياض
شركة تنظيف بيوت بالرياض
شركة عزل خزانات بالرياض
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالرياض
شركة تخزين اثاث
شركة نقل اثاث الرياض
شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالرياض
كشف تسربات المياه
كشف تسربات

reham magdy said...

شركة كشف تسربات بالرياض
شركة كشف تسربات
شركات كشف تسربات بالرياض
تسليك مجارى
شركة غسيل خزانات
تنظيف خزانات المياه بالرياض
شركة نظافة خزانات
تنظيف الخزانات بالرياض
شركة تنظيف خزانات المياه
غسيل الخزانات
مؤسسة تنظيف خزانات
تسليك مجارى
شركة تنظيف بيارات بالرياض
شركة تسليك مجارى
افضل شركة تسليك مجارى
شركة تسليك المجارى بالرياض
تسليك مجارى بالرياض
شركات تسليك مجارى بالرياض
شركة نقل عفش
شركات نقل عفش بالرياض
شركات نقل العفش
شركات نقل الاثاث بالرياض
افضل شركة نقل عفش بالرياض
تخزين اثاث بالرياض
تخزين اثاث
تخزين عفش
شركات تخزين اثاث بالرياض
افضل شركة نقل اثاث
نقل أثاث في الرياض

reham magdy said...


شركة تنظيف بالرياض
شركة تنظيف منازل بالرياض
شركة تنظيف فلل بالرياض
شركة نقل اثاث بالرياض
شركة تنظيف خزانات بالرياض
كشف تسربات المياه
شركة رش مبيدات بالرياض
شركة تنظيف شقق بالرياض
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالرياض
شركة تنظيف

alth said...

Where on earth has this come from? I really would like to know what source(s) you are citing that propose this as a rule. The worst thing is that you are perpetuating this misconception. "a" and "an" have never been about the noun to which they refer. The rule is entirely phonological - "a" becomes "an" before a vowel sound (and yes, that does include the letter "h", where you pronounce, for example "herb" as "erb" or "historical" as "istorical"). Please please disclose the source of your confusion - and rest assured that it is wrong!

alth said...

Where on earth has this come from? I really would like to know what source(s) you are citing that propose this as a rule. The worst thing is that you are perpetuating this misconception. "a" and "an" have never been about the noun to which they refer. The rule is entirely phonological - "a" becomes "an" before a vowel sound (and yes, that does include the letter "h", where you pronounce, for example "herb" as "erb" or "historical" as "istorical"). Please please disclose the source of your confusion - and rest assured that it is wrong!