Advanced search

Do you say "an" historical figure?

(36 Posts)
ofhorse Wed 14-Dec-16 15:48:00

Do you say "a" historical figure or "an" historical figure?

I think I would say "an" ... but writing it down here and just musing which is correct.


BdumBdummer Wed 14-Dec-16 15:53:27

I say "an". I am a pedant. Not sure that's a reason to say "an" but it is a reason to write it.

AndShesGone Wed 14-Dec-16 15:54:55

Yes definitely

FilledSoda Wed 14-Dec-16 15:56:18


fruityb Wed 14-Dec-16 15:56:21

Words beginning with H should be an. Means those of us in Yorkshire end up saying "a norse" instead of "an horse" lol.

ReggaeShark Wed 14-Dec-16 16:01:09

I would say "a" (but write "an"). I know it's incorrect but I think it's common usage now.

Fink Wed 14-Dec-16 16:02:36

It's a debated point, there isn't one 'correct' answer even amongst linguists. Personally I use an for unaspirated h words (an honourable woman) but a for aspirated (a historical figure, a hotel). I tend to see an historical as quite affected, used by the sort of people who don't pronounce the h in hotel, Hyacinth Bucket types. But I'm aware that some people are taught that it's correct and just go along with it.

SuburbanRhonda Wed 14-Dec-16 16:03:39

It may be in common usage but "a" sounds wrong to me whereas "an" sounds right.

AndShesGone Wed 14-Dec-16 16:04:17

It's not all words beginning with 'h'. You can say 'there's a horse in the field'.

It's not 'there's an horse in the field' is it ? (Sounds bloody weird to me)

YokoUhOh Wed 14-Dec-16 16:06:06

I think we inherited these words from French. The French would say 'un hotel' with a silent 'h', which is why some of us say 'an hotel' (I dont!).

As with most things, both are probably correct.

YokoUhOh Wed 14-Dec-16 16:07:45

Historical = un histoire (a story); l'histoire (history).

FlopsyisaRabbit Wed 14-Dec-16 16:14:38

Personally, I think an is fine if the H is not heard - e.g honour - but if it is, then I use a (a horse etc). No doubt there is probably a proper way, but I generally don't drop my H's when I speak, so an feels a mouthful!

BreatheDeep Wed 14-Dec-16 16:14:54

I thought you use 'an' where the h isn't pronounced so it sounds like the word starts with a vowel. And you use 'a' when the h is pronounced.

A hotel, a horse, a house, a hill, a historical figure
An honour, an hour.

GiddyOnZackHunt Wed 14-Dec-16 16:16:17

Yes to what Breathe and Fink said

ofhorse Wed 14-Dec-16 16:22:47

Really interesting- thanks for all your responses. When I said it in my head, "an" just sounded right, but I wasn't sure when I saw it written down, which started me on my muse...!

museumum Wed 14-Dec-16 16:23:27

I would use a but I say historic like horse with a clear h. I would say an honour and not pronounce the h.

museumum Wed 14-Dec-16 16:25:04

I think I say a HIStoric palace
I've heard others say an isTORIC palace
But I'm Scottish so what do I know about "proper" pronounciation grin

pklme Wed 14-Dec-16 16:47:37

My DM is first cousin to Hyacinth Bucket, and went through a phase of 'an 'ospital' an 'otel'. It doesn't work with words without a French root, like 'horse', and risks sounding like you just drop your aitches, so it didn't last long!

quirkychicken Fri 16-Dec-16 22:32:04

An. An. Always an.

Yamadori Fri 16-Dec-16 22:39:00

'An 'istorical figure' but I drop my aitches anyway.

wishparry Fri 16-Dec-16 23:32:28

Well I'm a bit miffed...I always thought you said an for something that precedes a vowel like:an elephant,an Apple,an idiot,an octopus etc etc.
I thought you said a for something that precedes a fish,a boat,a house,a potatoe,a kerbstone etc etc.

SailingThroughTime Fri 16-Dec-16 23:35:43

I work it through pronunciation rather than spelling and I'm not French.

chipmonkey Fri 16-Dec-16 23:37:52

"An historical" to me sounds correct but twattish. I'm Irish though so have a strained related with the letter "h" at the best of times.

stonecircle Fri 16-Dec-16 23:40:16

I would say and write 'an historic...'. In fact I had to write just that the other day and was irritated to see outlook didn't like it and put a red line underneath. It did make me stop and think, but no way was I going to put 'a historic ...'!

Curious541 Fri 16-Dec-16 23:47:27

I think it's both...

I would say/write 'half an hour' not 'half a hour'

But then I'd say/write 'buy a house' not 'buy an house'

I think it depends on how you're pronouncing it

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: