An or A European

peanutter   Sunday, April 18, 2004, 12:49 GMT
I say 'a' European, but I know there is that rule about using 'an' before words that start with a vowel, as in 'an Englishman', 'an Aussie', 'an Iraqi', 'an egg' etc.
But why does it sound wrong saying 'an European'? Is this an exception to the rule or am I just saying it wrong?
Any help from some of the smart English teacher types on this forum would be appreciated.
javier   Sunday, April 18, 2004, 14:22 GMT
Because the sound "eu" is consonatic in this word, although they are vowels. You pronounce "a Djuropean" - more or less"

It also happens with other words, for example, "a uniform", "a universe",...

In fact, you must realize if the first vowel or set of vowels has a consonantic sound or not.

Take care
John   Sunday, April 18, 2004, 14:35 GMT
It should be ''a european'' because ''european'' starts with the ''y'' sound.


an hour
an honor
an herb

There's one exception though,

An Historic
An Hispanic
Guy   Sunday, April 18, 2004, 16:06 GMT
John, I thought "herb" can be "an herb" as well...?
peanutter   Monday, April 19, 2004, 11:37 GMT
Thanks for the replies :)
nic   Monday, April 19, 2004, 11:41 GMT
an hospital
Simon   Monday, April 19, 2004, 12:57 GMT
No, it is no longer the rule that you have to say "an historic". This sounds wrong to me and I have never used it.
mjd   Monday, April 19, 2004, 18:12 GMT
Yeah, I rarely say "an historical"...probably only if I were speaking fast and lessened the sound of the "H."
John   Monday, April 19, 2004, 18:45 GMT
Guy, it's ''an herb'' in America and ''a herb'' in Briton.
Jim   Tuesday, April 20, 2004, 00:39 GMT
"an herb" = [@n e:(r)b] in most North American accents
"a herb" = [.. he:(r)b] in most other accents

"a uniform" = [.. ju:nifo:(r)m]
"a universe" = [.. ju:nive:(r)s]
"a European" = [.. ju:rOupi(:)..n] not "a Djuropean" but with a "y" sound, [j], as John says. The [j] is a consonant (in the phonologic* structure of English).

I say "an historical" and to me it's "a historical" which sounds wrong but I won't complain if someone uses it. It is no longer the rule that you have to apply those things that might once have been labled as "the rules".

Jim   Wednesday, April 21, 2004, 05:47 GMT
I heard Tony Blair say "an historical" on TV last night.
Simon   Wednesday, April 21, 2004, 08:36 GMT
No you can say it but it is not the only acceptable usage any more. Personally, I put AN before vowel-sounds, not consonant-sounds, and as I don't drop my aitches, historical begins with a H-sound.
not native   Monday, April 26, 2004, 20:41 GMT
As far as " 'a' European" is concerned I was tought that the sound [ju] which we pronounce at the beginning of "European" is so called "semi-vowel" so it is not a vowel as you could see from the graphic presentation of the word.Therefore the article "an" is not appropriate here.