An hour vs. a hour — which is correct?

They are essential in some languages, others do not need them at all — definite and indefinite articles. In English, there are two indefinite articles: a and an. The elementary rules governing their use are quite simple; yet, sometimes there arise some doubts. Take for example an hour or a hour.

An hour vs. a hour? Which form is correct meaning definition correct form difference examples

A hour vs. an hour — basic grammar revision

First, we should start with a quick revision, and present the basic rules applied to the indefinite articles, a and an. A is used before a noun which begins with a consonant, an accompanies a noun which begins with a vowel. As simple as that. H is definitely a consonant. Is it not incorrect when it is accompanied with an?

A hour or an hour — which form is incorrect?

Even though the word hour is spelled with H, an is the correct article. This choice is determined by the pronunciation. In case of hour, the H is silent, and the word is pronounced as /aʊər/. Other examples of silent H are words like ‘honour’ or ‘honesty’.

In words like ‘hotel’ or ‘honey’, you can clearly hear the sound /h/, so in their case an is the correct article.

An hour and a hour — the riddle is solved, and exemplified by literature

‘Don’t you just love those long rainy afternoons in New Orleans when an hour isn’t just an hour – but a little piece of eternity dropped into your hands – and who knows what to do with it’.

Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire, 1947

‘Calendars and clocks exist to measure time, but that signifies little because we all know that an hour can seem as eternity or pass in a flash, according to how we spend it’.

Michael Ende, Momo, 1973

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Passionately in love with English — a romance initiated by reading Tolkien’s books that finally lead her too far, and now she is an English philology graduate. She loves learning, especially when it comes to languages. Interested in visual arts, history and DIY.