On Comcast’s online news, I just read an article about the reaction of U.S. Democrats to a Supreme Court decision. The Associated Press (AP) writer stated:
A historically diverse field of Democratic presidential candidates–a woman, a black, an Hispanic and five whites–denounced an hours-old Supreme Court affirmative action ruling. . . .
An Hispanic? No way, Jose. The article an precedes words that start with a vowel sound:
The word Hispanic starts with a consonant sound, h, doesn’t it? In my American Heritage College Dictionary the h is pronounced. If we agree to pronounce the h, then let’s write:
a woman, a black, and a Hispanic
However, if you live in a place where the word is pronounced “istoric,” you may use an.
I was pleased to see that the AP writer did not say “an historically diverse field,” although that might have been consistent with “an Hispanic.”
If you are remembering a time when “an historic” was the rule, I am too. When I was growing up in the U.S., we always wrote “an historic” and “an historical.” But that style is now out. Let’s just call it a
n historical use–not a current one.
For more about a and an, read this post.