A loyal reader suggested I go over when you use each of these adjectives.
We all were taught early on to use “a” before a word starting with a consonant and “an” before a word beginning with a vowel. But following that rule can sometimes get you in trouble.
It’s not whether a word begins with a consonant or vowel. What is important iswhat it sounds like the word starts with:
“Hour” starts with a consonant—but we say/write “an hour” because the “h” is silent.
We also say/write “a yellow dog.” “Y” is considered to be a type of vowel, but here it definitely has the sound of a consonant.
It was considered correct until fairly recently to use “an” before “history,” “historian,” “historical” [film/book/play, etc.], but the Association of Cranky English Teachers (of which I am a charter member) decided it was also fine to use “a” before such words.
So with “a” and “an,” use your ears, not your eyes.