Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The proper use of "AN" before vowels.

University ChallengeImage via Wikipedia

I think I have touched on this subject before in this blog, but my temper was inflamed last night when watching TV, so much so that I sent this letter to the BBC.

I was appalled last night (Monday 8Th February 2010) when I tuned into University Challenge to hear Jeremy Paxman, while asking a question put "an" before historic instead of the correct "A historic." He sits there all pompous, asking intellectual questions, and cannot even get his grammar correct.
A, E, I, O, U, are our vowels and when these five letters come at the beginning of a word, it is only THEN that "an" should be put before them.
Words like " historic" and "horrific" DO NOT and SHOULD NOT under any circumstances have "AN" before them whether used with a local dialect or not. They are not written that way and should not be read that way.
The two words I mention are the two most common where these errors occur, and the mistakes are made by most, if not all TV newscasters and presenters, who, in their position of influence should be setting a good example to the viewers by using correct grammar.
It was made even worse, when wrongly used on a program such as University Challenge where the future of our nation has a showcase to prove their intelligence to the viewers, and from where some of our future newscasters could arise from to carry on misusing the English language.
Please see to it that your newscasters and presenters start to set a good example to the viewers by correcting this mistake that has been going on too long, after all they don't say "an history lesson" or "an horrible event," so I fail to see why they get it so wrong when using "historic" and "horrific."
The only exception is "hour" where the "H" is silent.

People in their positions should know better, and it is time something was done about it before this practise becomes run of the mill, and accepted as correct when it is far from it.

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  1. So you is saying that I should do an check before I publish an post? Hmm,...

  2. Yes I am Whitesockgirl ha ha. It's the TV presenters I am getting at though. Nice one.

  3. It's funny... if you're wired for grammar, it is impossible NOT to notice such speech violations. Misspellings on public signs make me cringe a little too!

  4. Aye Heather it's a pity these people who are in the position to influence the proper use of our language are not wired for grammar.

  5. Donald, if I ever misspeak please accept my apology ahead of time, as I am self taught, wishing I had a better command of the English language however, I so love writing I do it anyway, so please remember I do my best and at 63 it would be hard to fit into my schedule, learning the doe's and don't s thus,I wing it hoping not to offend those that know better.

    Dorothy from grammology

  6. Its the TV presenters I am getting at Dorothy, they should be setting an example. They are guilty of putting an before historic and horrific when speaking but it is wrong, "an" should only be used before vowels. I am far from perfect myself as far as grammar is concerned but that error is inexcusable coming from them.