English Grammar


In my lesson today ( try to find the English translation ) I had: " un syndicat ( de chauffeurs routiers ) = a union (of trucks drivers)
Why " a " instead " an " in front of the word " union " ? This noun is beginning with a vowel...?


  • As a matter of fact, Carmelle, the first letter of 'union' is a vowel sounding like a consonant and therefore works as a consonant with the article a/an introducing it.
    a union
    a European citizen
    a university
    a UN representative
    a united front
    a utopia
    a one-night stay
    a user of the GymGlish
    a utensil
    Please note that, if the 'u' is linked to another letter to form a syllabe, the article 'an' fits.
    an unpleasant reply
    an unbiased opinion
    an urban district
    an uproar
    an ultimate power
    an usher (syllabe 'ush')
    Words beginning with a SILENT letter also use 'an'
    an hour
    an honourable position
    an honest man

    I'm nothing more than a student at the GymGlish, not a grammarian. So, Carmelle, you'd better check further.
  • Dear AhQ,

    Thank you very much for your help. I will check further as you suggest to me.
  • Hi Guys,

    Good question, and great answer AhQ.

    The article to use depends on the sound of the noun which follows. Words with consonant sounds like 'union', 'unit' and 'university' take 'a' as an article, whereas words with vowel sounds like 'underground', 'urban' and 'understanding' take the article 'an'.

    The rule is the same for words like 'hour', 'honest' and 'honor': these words take 'an' because they begin with vowel sounds.

    Note that there are a few terms in English where it is acceptable to use either 'a/an': 'historic', 'historical' and 'homage' (homage is pronounced sometimes with a hard 'h' and other times like the French 'O mage'.
  • Thank you very much Andrew!

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