A vs. An: What is the Difference? Which One to Use?

a vs an what difference definition which use

Do you know the basic difference between A vs. An? In the last few posts, I have been telling you how some of the confusing English word pairs can make your life difficult while speaking English. But what if I tell you that not only the word pairs but some articles can also do the same for you.

A vs. An: What is the Difference?

Let’s try to understand A vs. An. Yes, you heard it right, these are not the same. No matter how much we study, the confusion between using A and An will always be there. This post will tackle that.

Let’s get started.

It is used before words that start with a consonant soundIt is used before words that start with a vowel sound.
E.g., I need a friend whom I can trust.E.g., I need an umbrella because it’s going to rain today!
A vs. An: What is the Difference

A vs. An with respect to Articles

Both “A” and “an” are nothing but indefinite articles, and the is known as a definite article. But the funny thing is both “a” and “an” can’t say anything special about the words that follow.

Like, “I need a drink.”

It’s not clear which drink is referred to here.

But when we say, “I need the drink,”

Immediately, it becomes certain which drink we are referring to. Because probably there is a specific drink for us.

So, how do you differentiate between using “a” or “an”?

Well, the key is to judge the sound of the next word, not the first letter of the next word. This is what determines whether you want “a” or “an.” Usually, the consonant sounds call for an “a,” and the vowel sounds call for an “an.”

So, the rule is apparently simple; you must use “a” before those words that start with a consonant sound and “an” before those words that start with a vowel sound. Still confused? Well, let’s dig deep!

Should You Use ‘A’ or ‘An’?

Do you often wonder if it is “an hour” or “a hour”? Well, the correct answer is “an hour” because “hour” starts with a vowel sound. Most people often get confused with the letters H and U since sometimes they might start with vowel sounds and otherwise they start with consonant sounds.


They went to see a historic monument.


They gave him an honorable mention.

The same kind of problems can happen with the letters O and M. Sometimes you need to use “an” before words that start with O, but sometimes you need to use A. Like,

Do you have a one-track mind?

But otherwise you say;

Are you doing an MBA?

Another complication can often happen when some words are pronounced differently in British English and American English.


The Americans might say,

It is an herb

Because they pronounce it “erb”

But the British will say,

It is a herb.

Because they pronounce it as “herb

Some Questions and Answers for A vs. AN


  • I demand you give me (an/a) answer.
  • -> I demand you give me an answer.


  • I want to have (an/a) ice-cream.
  • -> I want to have an ice-cream.


  • Do you have (an/a) pen?
  • -> Do you have a pen?


  • Bring me (an/a) orange.
  • -> Bring me an orange.


  • They wanted to know who is (an/a) cheater among us two.
  • -> They wanted to know who is a cheater among us two.


So, there you have it. The difference between “A” and “An”. Let us know if you have any other queries.

Refer to our most interesting articles

Nouns that starts with A

Noun that starts with B

Noun that starts with C

What is noun

Types of noun

Collective nouns

Concrete nouns

Irregular plurals

Reference Articles

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