question 5

Ask the wise old owl

Wise Old Owl

Why can’t I say “an useful book”?

We learn that if the word directly after “a” begins with a vowel (a, e, i, o or u), “a” becomes “an”.

An apple
An old horse.
An enormous birthday cake.

However, in some cases where the word begins with “u”, this rule doesn’t apply because the sound is like the “y”, in “you” rather than the “u” in “umbrella”.

Therefore we have to say:

A university
A used car
A useful book.

More articles in this series

If you want to read the rest of the articles in this series, go to the wise old owl’s main page.

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Author: Kirsty Wolf

I am an English teacher and a language enthusiast who also speaks German and Romanian. I help motivated professionals to improve their English so that they can communicate confidently and authentically.

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