"a" or "an" before an acronym

mjd   Thursday, April 10, 2003, 08:04 GMT
I found this on another site:

If the acronym is pronounced as a word, such as NASA, then use the article that would be appropriate if it were indeed a word: "a NASA representative."

If the acronym is pronounced as individual letters, such as NSA (National Security Agency), then use the article that would be appropriate when pronouncing the first letter: "an NSA representative."

Just some of the little things you never think about. Normally, "an" always goes before a word beginning with a vowel. Some exceptions to this occur with the use of the letter h, when the accent of the word falls on the second syllable.

an historical event
(today I believe it's technically supposed to be "a" and "a" sounds okay too...but you still here "an" before "an historical event" quite often

an hour
Jim   Thursday, April 10, 2003, 08:15 GMT
I'd say "an historical event". I'll have nobody tell me I'm technically wrong.
mjd   Thursday, April 10, 2003, 08:20 GMT
spelling error...."but you still hear"
Justin   Thursday, April 10, 2003, 11:20 GMT
"An or a before "h"? Rule is, if you pronounce the "h," as in historical, use "a." If the "h" is not pronounced, as in honest or hour, use "an." "
SHW   Thursday, April 10, 2003, 13:08 GMT
"an" goes before a word beginning with a vowel SOUND.
The *letter* "n" sounds like "e-n" when just speaking the letter.
cmhiv   Thursday, April 10, 2003, 16:22 GMT
Yes, if one pronounces the "h" use "a," otherwise use "an."

I was listening to the British parliament, and one of the blokes said, "an historical..." but he aspirated the "h" so it stood out a lot. IT sounded so weird!
mjd   Thursday, April 10, 2003, 19:20 GMT
Yeah, "an" only sounds okay when one is speaking fast. If you say very slowly...."an historical event" (slow enough so that the h is pronounced) it doesn't sound right. The h is always silent in the word "hour" so it's always "an."
Jim   Friday, April 11, 2003, 00:37 GMT
It sounds okay to me.
Jim   Monday, April 21, 2003, 02:26 GMT
Which sounds better "an hysterical girl" or "a hysterical girl"?
SHW   Thursday, April 24, 2003, 19:56 GMT
"an hysterical girl" sounds better if you de-emphasize the "h" in "hysterical". If you pronounce "hysterical" with a hard emphasis on the "h", then "a hysterical girl" sounds better.
mjd   Friday, April 25, 2003, 08:14 GMT
I agree with SHW. Usually my "h's" tend to be somewhat hard, so I'd probably use "a hysterical girl."
Antonio   Monday, April 28, 2003, 12:58 GMT
The problem with the ´historical ´is that, when we have a word beginnig with ´h´ (and that is pronounced) we used ´a´ . But there is a second ruled, not very well mastered, that is: if we have a ´h´ word but if the stress ISN´T on the first syllabus, then it takes ´an´ So: ´AN historical event´ / his-TO-ri-cal/ <-- that´s why! The ´h´ is pronounced but it isn´t the stressed syllable.

People, that is right grammatically speaking. I think if one said ´a historical event´I wouldn´t mind at all.