[Ads-l] Articles and letters of the alphabet

Andy Bach afbach at GMAIL.COM
Sat Feb 13 08:54:15 EST 2021


3. It starts/ends with a “B.”
4. It starts/ends with “B.”
> For me, at least, the article is obligatory when describing letters in
other word positions:
5. “Build” has an “B” in it.
??6. “Build” has “B” in it.
> 4 and 6 seem inconsistent.

Not sure this is of any use; for me, born and raised in the midwest,
they're a lot less jarring.  Maybe a generic vs specific sense, e.g.
The words on this list start with "B", for instance, "Bird" which starts
with a "B"
Now find words with "U" in them, for instance, "Build" has a "U" in it.

One that was jarring was #5 "... an B"  sounded wrong. "An A" and going
through the alphabet, I, and H took "an" naturally. I got to LMN and found
I could go either way, as could "X" - "an" or "a". Funny was "an U" was the
one vowel that sounded wrong.

On Fri, Feb 12, 2021 at 11:37 AM Barretts Mail <mail.barretts at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Generally, it seems that articles are optional for single letters of the
> alphabet:
>
> 1. This is a “B.”
> 2. This is “B.”
>
> Number 1 seems to be talking about the letter, and number 2 seems to be
> pedagogical. For number 2, then, perhaps the article is skipped because “B”
> is treated as a proper noun.
>
> As for spelling:
>
> 3. It starts/ends with a “B.”
> 4. It starts/ends with “B.”
>
> These seem nearly equivalent, but 3 feels more prescriptively correct.
>
> For me, at least, the article is obligatory when describing letters in
> other word positions:
>
> 5. “Build” has an “B” in it.
> ??6. “Build” has “B” in it.
>
> 4 and 6 seem inconsistent. Is there a way to explain this?
>
> Benjamin Barrett (he/his/him)
> Formerly of Seattle, WA
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>


-- 

a

Andy Bach,
afbach at gmail.com
608 658-1890 cell
608 261-5738 wk

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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