a spectacular vs an spectacular


Is it:

a spectacular movie

or it is said:

an spectacular movie

I'm writing a book in English but I'm Latino so I might need some help with this, I'd appreciate it a lot


Posted 2017-12-08T23:59:24.040

Reputation: 97

Question was closed 2017-12-09T13:23:49.730



The indefinite article "an" is used in front of words that have an initial vowel sound regardless of whether the first letter be a vowel or not. This is called a "sandhi" in English, which is similar to a liaison in French and other Romance languages. In fact, "sandhi" is the catchall term whereof a liaison is a subcategory.

So ask yourself this question: does the word "spectacular" begin with a vowel sound? Is the sibilant "s" a vowel sound? The answer is no, it is not; therefore, the answer is:

a spectacular movie

Notice words that do take "an" usually have a vowel as their first letter, but this is not always the case because of the pronunciation. There are some that can also take both depending upon the pronunciation that the speaker uses.

a book, a doll, a worm, an hour, an apple, a boy, an octopus, a/an historic occasion, a/an hotel, a briefcase, a raisin, an engineer, a user, a board, an orange.

I hope that might have helped you out. Take care and good luck.


Posted 2017-12-08T23:59:24.040

Reputation: 2 864

yeah, I get it. Thanks you very much man, It's just that in spanish the vowels are different :/ – RodrigoM – 2017-12-09T00:21:38.927

Okay, that's fine. It's pretty easy once you learn the rules. The letter "s" is never going to have an "an" preceding it because it is a sibilant sound. There are words like "one" that have a "w" sound so they don't get an "an". Some words like "homunculus" can be either "a homunculus" or "an homunculus" depending upon whether you say the aspirate "h" sound or skip over it and move straight to the "o" sound. – Nick – 2017-12-09T00:28:02.023

2If the questioner has a Spanish-speaking background, it's worth noting that the English sound sequence "sp(vowel)" normally corresponds to the Spanish "es.p(vowel)", using a "." for the syllable boundary. The rule "does this start with a vowel?" is reliable for "a" vs. "an"; where it might get tricky is in cases where a native English accent clearly uses a consonant, but the Spanish-speaking learner's accent might insert an extra vowel. – Ethan Kaminski – 2017-12-09T06:20:17.067

1Fair enough, but I'm sure he has figured it out by now that there is no vowel in the beginning. I think that's called prothesis, am I right? – Nick – 2017-12-09T06:24:54.830

that's right, that was my confusion, the letter 's' in spanish is spelled like ‘es’ – RodrigoM – 2017-12-09T15:27:22.833


It is "a spectacular movie"

An is only used when the noun starts with a vowel sound.

An opera, an artichoke

Note that even if the word starts with a vowel, but sounds as a consonant, it will not use an:

a one-time event.

The 'w' sound of one does not need an 'an' (while this example does...)

Michael Dorgan

Posted 2017-12-08T23:59:24.040

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