[Ads-l] Articles and letters of the alphabet

Mark Mandel markamandel at GMAIL.COM
Mon Feb 15 20:10:33 EST 2021


But the letters in a word are countable.

MAM

On Sat, Feb 13, 2021, 12:22 PM Dennis During <dcduring at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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
>
>

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