When do we use “a” and when do we use “an”?

When do we use a and when do we use an?

Your teacher might tell you that we use an if the next word starts with a vowel, and a if the next word starts with a consonant, and your teacher is half-right.  The correct answer is that we use an if the next word sounds like it starts with a vowel, and a if the next word sounds like it starts with a consonant.

And now for some examples.

An apple.
A pear.
An egg.
A cat.
An honest man.
A unicorn.
An SOS message.
A one-armed man.

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