An NFL error

When do you use the indefinite articles a or an before a word? You use an before any word that starts with a vowel sound. It doesn’t have to start with a vowel; it’s the sound, not the letter, that’s important. It might be a new concept for the writers at yahoo.com who don’t realize that NFL starts with a vowel sound:

fp a nfl

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When did this become correct?

I wouldn’t drop an F-bomb over this headline from Yahoo! Style, but I would be appalled by the writer’s ignorance:

a f-bomb style

The letter F starts with a vowel sound, so the correct indefinite article before it is an, not a.

A historic mistake. Again

What is it about the word historic that makes the yahoo.com writers lose all sense? This would be correct only if they pronounce the word as istoric (and I’m not sayin’ they don’t):

fp an historic 2

The indefinite article an goes before a word that starts with a vowel sound, regardless the word’s first letter. So, in the U.S., it’s an herb (since we don’t pronounce the H), but in the U.K. it’s a herb (since they do).

Say it with a Cockney accent

‘Ere’s an ‘int for you: If a word starts with an H sound (like, oh, say, maybe historic), precede it with a not an.

fp an historic vessel

Maybe the editor for the Yahoo! front page ‘as a Cockney accent and drops the H at the start of words.

A historic error

If you pronounce the H in the word historic (and I hope you do), then you know that the indefinite article before it should be a and not an. Maybe the writer for the Yahoo! front page is Cockney and pronounces it ‘istoric:

fp an historic

An historic mistake

It may not be a historic mistake on the Yahoo! front page, but it is a common one:

fp an historical

Hello, pot. This is kettle calling

One silly slip-up deserves another on the Yahoo! front page:

fp an silly

This headline is an global embarrassment

From Yahoo! Finance‘s “The Daily Ticker,” a global embarrassment:

an global daily ticker

So, you want to be a editor?

Are you thinking about a career as an editor or proofreader? Here’s a little test to see if you’ve got what it takes. Would you have spotted the wrong word in this headline from Yahoo! Movies?

a indie movies

Of course you would. Most people know that the indefinite article you use before a word starting with a vowel is an, not a. But how about this Yahoo! Shine caption — can you identify the incorrect word?

news a fbi

Of course you can! You know that you use an and not a before a word that sounds like it starts with a vowel, even if its first letter is a consonant.

Now I’m really depressed

Quick, hand me a Zoloft. I’m depressed just reading this on the Yahoo! front page:

fp an non

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