Vowels: A vowel is a letter which makes a distinct sound by itself.
The vowels in the English language are:
A, E, I, O, U
Consonants: The word consonant is used to refer to a letter of an alphabet that denotes a consonant sound. It forms a syllable only in combination with vowel.
Consonant letters in the English alphabet are:
B, C, D, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q, R, S, T, V, W, X, Y, Z
The rule states that “a” should be used before words that begin with consonants while “an” should be used before words that begin with vowels. However, the usage is determined by the pronunciation and not by the spelling, as many people wrongly assume.
You should say, therefore, “an hour”, because hour begins with a vowel sound and “a history”, because history begins with a consonant sound.
Similarly you should say “a union” even if union begins with a “u.” That is because the pronunciation begins with “yu”, which is a consonant sound.
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