Do you use“A” or “An” before “H”?

Two simple rules govern how to use indefinite articles for most words. 

  • Use “a” before words that start with a consonant: a bag, a cup, a frog.
  • Use “an” before words that start with a vowel: an orange, an eel, an igloo.

However, there is one area where those rules become hazy. Which indefinite article do you use with “H”? “H” is a consonant, but it is often pronounced like a vowel. So, “H” gets its own special set of rules.  

  • Use “a” before words where the letter “H” is pronounced: a horse, a happy boy, a hut.  
  • Use “an” before words where the letter “H” is not pronounced: an honor, an honest girl, an hour.

This confusion is due to how our language evolved. English words with Germanic roots pronounce the “H.” However, English words with French roots do not pronounce the “H.” 

Related: Choosing the right article, A or An?

Want to sharpen your business writing skills? Discover our acclaimed online courses at Whether you want to learn about taking taking meeting notes, become a master proofreader, master punctuation or tune-up your business writing skills, our courses are here to help you.

Posted by Avatar photo
By Patrice Riley

Patrice Riley is the pen name of Dr. Deborah Riley. She is a retired English professor that enjoys grammar, literature, and all things writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *