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An unit

Trying this query on Google to no avail, I was asked today whether it’s correct to say “a unit” or “an unit”. The rules of grammar I was taught at school (in England) would suggest the latter; yet the former seems, somehow, more right. Pages on Google use both freely, sometimes using both in the same document. So - which is correct?

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I would choose "a unit". I was taught that it needed a vowel sound. 'U''s short sound is vowel like, but a long 'U' at the beginning of a word soulds like a 'y', usually not considered a vowel.

This is why most people say 'an hour' and "a usual day".

chad August 11, 2004 @ 12:31PM

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When pronouncing a u as (yew) sound we (Brits) use the article 'a'
For example:-
a unit, a uniform, a eunuch etc...

lynne August 11, 2004 @ 1:54PM

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This ex-proofreader/editor wouldn't have hesitated one second, Jennifer. The preceding posters are correct; the use of a/an depends on sound, not spelling. So if it's correct to say "a young woman" or "a yellow submarine," it's also correct to say "a unit of measure" or "a uniform consistency."

speedwell2 August 12, 2004 @ 11:40AM

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In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, there are a couple of nouns in English that begin with a U but do not begin with the sound "yoo." "Ululation" (meaning a sort of fluid vocalization) is one of these (according to the American Heritage Dictionary). So in that case it would be correct to say "an ululation."

speedwell2 August 12, 2004 @ 11:45AM

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"an unit" is not a British affectation, it's simply incorrect. A British affectation is something like "an historic", which is using "an" before unstressed "h" -- which is listed as affectatious in American Usage references. Therefore, definitely "a unit", and better "a historical".

ok August 15, 2004 @ 3:02AM

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"An LP" is correct because the letter "L" is pronounced "elle" like the french pronoun. Since it is pronounced with a vowel sound, the article "an" is the correct option for this sentence.

haha October 14, 2012 @ 9:15PM

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