[Ads-l] Articles and letters of the alphabet

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Sat Feb 13 11:40:29 EST 2021


The letter “U” starts with a /j/ sound, so “a” is preferred.

The ambiguity for a/an before some letters is, what seems to me, the rising acceptability of “a” before vowel sounds. 

As for “an B”, sorry, that should have been “a B”. I changed the letter at the last minute for consistency and failed to catch that. The inconsistency I’m wondering about is why “It starts with B” is fine but “It has B” is not or at least less acceptable.

BB

> On 13 Feb 2021, at 05:54, Andy Bach <afbach at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> 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

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


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