Vowels – Just 5 or more?

Certainly, very very certainly; English continues to be famed for its complexity.

With thousands of English Coaching Centres in India alone, the world’s number 1 seeker of English Classes at Google is Sri Lanka, followed by India. With a market beyond a billion dollars, what is it all about?

I was educated at the Kamalnayan Bajaj School, a missionary convent managed by St. Ursula’s School in Pune, India. It is a school planned by Mr. Rahul Bajaj (of Bajaj Auto, world famous bike manufacturer) for the children of his employees as well as for other public. And it was managed and run by St. Ursula’s Society.

Our English teacher was Ms. Rozanna Rodricks, a zero-tolerance and highly disciplined teacher who is credited by all alumni throughout the last few decades, after realizing how important her classes were.

Articles in Grammar: A, An and The. We were taught to use An before every vowel (i.e. words beginning with a, e, i, o, u). But she taught us beyond this.

  • Frequently erred:
  1. ‘An European Council’
  2. ‘An Uganda Citizen’
  3. ‘A hour of patience’
  4. ‘An UN Resolution’
  5. ‘A MBA Graduate’
  6. ‘An major earthquake’
  7. ‘A MNC from England’.
  • What’s right:
  1. ‘A European Council’ – We use ‘An’ based on the pronounciation. If it doesn’t sound like a vowel, we use A even if the word starts with a vowel. In this case, European is pronounced as Yuropean / Yorapean, and the beginning doesn’t SOUND like any Vowel.
  2. ‘A Uganda Citizen’ – Same as above.
  3. ‘A UN Resolution’ – Same as above.
  4. ‘An hour of patience’ – Hour is generally pronounced simply as ‘aa-wer’. Like “I’d be back after an a-wer”. Some might argue that ‘hour’ is pronounced the same as ‘our’ / ‘ar’ / ‘aa’. Either ways, nothing shoots that ‘An’ appearing before ‘hour’ as long as the beginning sounds like one of the vowels.
  5. ‘An MBA Graduate’ – When we say MBA, we say ‘Em Bee A’, and the beginning sounds like a vowel / word starting with ‘E’.
  6. ‘An MNC from England’ – Same as above.
  7. ‘A Major Earthquake’ – So just because we used ‘An’ before MBA, wouldn’t qualify all words beginning with an ‘M’ to have the prefix ‘An’.

And the ignorance towards this is so large, that below is a snapshot from NY Times. I wouldn’t call these as lack of knowledge, it could be some kind of automating tools, or that most recently discovered & highly flourishing human nature called ‘instant gratification’. Some might as well give a damn to grammar, especially when they’re focussed on conveying an important subject matter to the audience. But then again, it’s upto the publishers to decide how much of audience they want to include!



4 Comments Add yours

  1. windywolfman says:

    🙂 Welcome & thanks for your thanks @SoManyMinutes http://somanyminutes.wordpress.com/


  2. windywolfman says:

    Lot of mistakes?! Whaddya sayin Ms. Top-Rated-Content-Publisher.. Never knew until you said so heheh.. I’d once made the mistake of depending on Auto-correctors for grammar – only to get deceived lol. @Sarah http://travelswithchoppy.wordpress.com/


  3. Thank you for that post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I make a lot of mistakes regularly, but this is (thankfully) one I only make accidentally!

    Liked by 1 person

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