Should I Say 'A' Hour Or 'An' Hour?

Should I Say ‘A’ Hour Or ‘An’ Hour?

Writers Write is a comprehensive writing resource. In this post, we discuss if you should say ‘a’ hour on ‘an’ hour.

Should I Say ‘A’ Hour Or ‘An’ Hour?

When should I use ‘a’ and when should I use ‘an’?

The Rule

You use ‘a’ before words that begin with consonants e.g., b, c, d. You use ‘an’ before words that begin with the five vowels – a, e, i, o, u.

However, the way you pronounce it and not the spelling, shows you which one you must use.


  1. You should say, ‘an hour’ (because hour begins with a vowel sound) and ‘a history’ (because history begins with a consonant sound).
  2. You should say ‘a union’ even if union begins with a ‘u’. This is because the pronunciation begins with ‘yu’, a consonant sound.


You need to understand if the abbreviation is pronounced as a single word or letter by letter.


  1. You say ‘a long playing-record’, but the abbreviation is ‘an LP’ (because ‘LP’ is pronounced ‘elpee’)
  2. You say ‘an MNET programme’ (because ‘MNET’ is pronounced ‘emnet’)
  3. You say ‘a NATO officer’ (because ‘NATO’ begins with a ‘ne’ sound)

[Top Tip: If you need practical help with your grammar, buy The Complete Grammar Workbook.]

Posted on: 1st August 2011

0 thoughts on “Should I Say ‘A’ Hour Or ‘An’ Hour?”

  1. All these years and I never knew that LP stood for long-playing record!!! Now I wonder why I never wondered what LP stood for…

    Fortunately for me, it was ingrained in grammar school that a vowel deserves an “an.”

    However, punctuation inside quotations always baffles me.