When to use “A” vs “AN”

Articles are an important part of English Grammar. An article is a word that we use to modify the noun.

What is a noun?

A noun is a person, a place, an object, a thing or an idea. Nouns are split into common nouns such as words for animals, places, things, or people:

  1. doctor
  2. horse
  3. beach
  4. car

Proper nouns are names we use for particular places, people or things:

  1. John
  2. China
  3. Hollywood
  4. Mount Everest

(They’ll always start with a capital letter)

What is an article?

An article is an adjective used before a noun. Normally we use adjectives to describe a noun, but an article is used to refer directly to the noun.

When to use A

A is an indefinite article, which means we use it to refer to a general noun rather than a specific item. We use A when before a single noun when the first letter of the noun is a consonant:

  • A book
  • A car
  • A dog
  • A flag
  • A giraffe

When to use An

An is an indefinite article, which means we use it to refer to a general noun rather than a specific item. We use An when before a single noun when the first letter of the noun is a vowel:

  • An apple
  • An elephant
  • An igloo
  • An octopus
  • An umbrella

Exceptions A vs AN

There are a few exceptions to the general rules.

For example, in some words where we use a consonant as a first letter which has a vowel sound, we then use An:

  • An hour
  • An honor

And in reverse, in some words where we use a vowel as a first letter which has a consonant sound, we then use A:

  • A United States citizen
  • A university

This also happens with any acronyms:

  • An LCD screen
  • A ULR

Conclusion

So the most important thing to remember in A vs AN is the first sound of the following noun. If the noun starts with a consonant sound, use A. If a noun starts with a vowel sound, use An.

Peek, Peak, And Pique – What’s the Difference?

Often Misused Words

The English language can be a bit tricky, especially with a lot of words that sound the same but have a different meaning. These words are known as homophones. Even though peek and pique share the same pronunciation, they both have their unique meaning and usage.

Peak

The word peek can be used as either a verb, adjective or a noun. The word Peak is by definition as reach the highest, the topmost point something, or a sharp or pointed end of something. For example:

  • There is a bird sitting on the peak of the barn roof.
  • The mountain peak is covered in snow.
  • Our web site saw its peak traffic today in the noon hour.

Peek

The word peek can be used as either a verb or a noun. Peek is by definition a quick glance or a look at something. It usually refers to a quick glance from a hidden location at something that shouldn’t be seen. For example, it’s often used when kids are trying to have a look at hidden Christmas presents:

  • The kid was able to peek at the presents since the door was slightly ajar.

It is often used in conjunction with the word “sneak”, in which cases it can be misspelled as “peak”.

  • Did you watch the sneak peek of that new TV show?

When used in verb form, peek is used without an object.

  • Ben peeked behind the curtain.

Pique

On the other hand, pique is a completely different word that can have multiple meanings. Pique originates from a French word that means to prick/sting someone. It’s most often used as a verb that means to excite or stimulate someone’s interest and curiosity. 

  • That new movie really piqued my curiosity. 

You will often see the sentence “pique a person’s curiosity” misspelled as “peek a person’s curiosity”. This is wrong, as you are piquing/exciting someone, not taking a quick glance at his interest.

The noun pique can also denote a feeling of irritation or resentment. 

John found himself in a pique after disliking the movie.

When used as a verb, it means to displease or anger someone. Whatever the case, pique can be used both with or without an object.

  • Out of pique, I can become a really unpleasant person.

Conclusion

Knowing the differences between these words is crucial to avoid misuse. While peek is connected with sight, pique refers to interest/displeasure, Peak is to be or achieve the top or tip of something.