Meaning of A in English



Pronunciation: ə , ( ' ) ā , Canad ' a

Function: indefinite article

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English ā n one ― more at ONE

Date: before 12th century

1 ― used as a function word before singular nouns when the referent is unspecified < a man overboard> and before number collectives and some numbers < a dozen>

2 : the same <birds of a feather> <swords all of a length>

3 a ― used as a function word before a singular noun followed by a restrictive modifier < a man who was here yesterday> b : ANY < a man who is sick can't work> c ― used as a function word before a mass noun to denote a particular type or instance < a bronze made in ancient times> d ― used as a function word before a proper noun representing an example or type <the attractions of a Boston or a Cleveland> e ― used as a function word before a proper noun to indicate limited knowledge about the referent < a Mr. Smith called to inquire about the job> f ― used as a function word before a proper noun to distinguish the condition of the referent from a usual, former, or hypothetical condition < a triumphant Ms. Jones greeted her supporters>

4 ― used as a function word with nouns to form adverbial phrases of quantity, amount, or degree <felt a bit tired>

usage In speech and writing a is used before a consonant sound < a door> < a human>. Before a vowel sound an is usual < an icicle> < an honor> but especially in speech a is used occasionally, more often in some dialects than in others < a apple> < a hour> < a obligation>. Before a consonant sound represented by a vowel letter a is usual < a one> < a union> but an also occurs though less frequently now than formerly < an unique> <such an one>. Before unstressed or weakly stressed syllables with initial h both a and an are used in writing < a historic> < an historic>. In the King James Version of the Old Testament and occasionally in writing and speech an is used before h in a stressed syllable < an huntress> < an hundred> <children are an heritage of the Lord ― Ps 127:3(AV)>.

Merriam Webster Collegiate English Dictionary.      Merriam Webster - Энциклопедический словарь английского языка.