a-an consonant starting words


Is there some special rule regarding articles for words starting with two consonants? I was taught to use a when a word starts with consonant (or an otherwise). I just wrote "a mPOS device" but MS Word proposes to use "an". I can hear "emPOs". Is this a special rule or the Word spell checker bug? Thanks

Leos Literak

Posted 2015-02-23T15:58:32.040

Reputation: 733

Question was closed 2015-02-23T18:49:47.733

2It is what you can hear that the rule regarding a and an applies to, so I am not sure what you are asking. – None – 2015-02-23T16:02:41.407


It is not the letter that the next word starts with that counts but the sound. See this comment. Since mPOS starts with a vowel sound, use an. (That is the traditional rule, although it doesn't describe how all native speakers actually speak.)

– None – 2015-02-23T16:06:59.167

1I see. So the pronounciation is the rule. – Leos Literak – 2015-02-23T16:08:26.337

1Yes, sir, it is the pronunciation that is the rule. – None – 2015-02-23T16:09:20.250

Think of it this way: adding in the "-n" separates two spoken vowels which would be akward to say one after the other. Try saying "a apple" and "an apple" or "an mPOS" and "a mPOS". The way you say it reflects back on how you write it - a or an. – Stephie – 2015-02-23T16:40:38.340

This is diccussed at length here: http://ell.stackexchange.com/questions/6760/should-individual-letters-be-preceded-with-an/6762#6762

– Stephie – 2015-02-23T16:44:16.153

You would wonder how akward my native language is :-) For example this is absolutely correct sentence composed of just consonants: "Strč prst skrz krk" (put finger through throat). We have many words having 3-4 consonants in a row. – Leos Literak – 2015-02-23T22:41:33.577

No answers