[Ads-l] Articles and letters of the alphabet

Dennis During dcduring at GMAIL.COM
Sat Feb 13 12:22:45 EST 2021


In my reading of your example, I wanted "B" to be uncountable.

"X has Y in it" typically has "Y" uncountable and therefore has the null
determiner. Eg, "That bread has gluten in it."

On Sat, Feb 13, 2021 at 11:40 AM Barretts Mail <mail.barretts at gmail.com>
wrote:

> 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
>


-- 
Dennis C. During

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


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