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diafol

I think the rule of thumb with regard to h comes down to the hardness of the sound. A hard 'h' should be preceded by 'a', e.g. a hard rock and a soft 'h' should be preceded by 'an', e.g. an hour.

I find 'u' a bit confusing. I think the rule is long/short - if short, it has a 'vowel sound' and should use 'an', e.g. an unbelievable event, but the longer 'you'-sound as in 'university' or 'useless' should use 'a'.

I find that I use 'an' for most cases of words beginning with 'u'. Maybe seepage from my first language which also treats 'w' and 'y' as vowels.

As for hardness of the sound (and I may have the terms slightly incorrect), I think they would fall into

  1. glottal (hard g type as in, well, glottal)
  2. hard labial (b, p (except silent, etc)
  3. soft labial (f)
  4. hard palatal (t, d, etc)
  5. soft palatal (soft c, s)

These would all be preceded with "a". "Open" sounds like vowels would be preceded with "an". But then you get the weird words like "weird" which start with an open sound but still use "a".

OK. English is hard. Esperanto anyone? How about we just use "Wheel of Fortune" grammer?

Pat, I'd like to buy uh eh.

Reverend Jim - I got fired once for using the phrase "bilabial fricative" - all the asshole heard was 'labia' and fired me for using a female body part in a description.

I think the rule of thumb with regard to h comes down to the hardness of the sound. A hard 'h' should be preceded by 'a', e.g. a hard rock and a soft 'h' should be preceded by 'an', e.g. an hour.

Correct but like the rest of English there is no actual hard and fast rule. I think it comes as a "hangover" from older forms of the English language and its roots in Celtic / Germanic / Latin. For instance, I have started studying Gaelic (Irish) and in that language you add a letter to the start of a word (called an Uru) to soften or harden the sound of the start of word.

Another interesting fact is, although modern English has no mascline and feminine forms, older versions did which is why a ship is a "she", a dog a he, and, a cat a she.

Is it true, that most English adverbs end with "ly"?
Example: She walked elegantly in that elegant dress.

the a/an is entirely to ease pronounciation. So in written text its only purpose is to facilitate reading since most people read as they would speak the language, but because of differing pronounciation due to accents for many words either an/a would be acceptable.

Most adverbs do end with "ly", particularly ones derived from an adjective. However, adverbs with no counterparts which are other parts of speech may not end with "ly" eg. quite. And many words ending in "ly" are not adverbs.

In general, I would say a "ly" suffix makes a word descriptive (either an adverb or an adjective).

But as with everything in English there are exceptions.

@ Agilemind: Thanks for the explanation about "ly".
But

most people read as they would speak the language

what about "ghoti" which could be pronounced as "fish"!

ghoti isn't really applicable to my point because if you had learned that ghoti is pronouced 'fish' then when you read it you would say 'fish' in your head and you would say/write 'a ghoti' if you had learned it is pronouced 'oaty' then when you read it you would say 'oaty' in your head and you would say/write 'an ghoti'. - You don't read the individual letters (if you're fluent).

Just like if you learned that hibiscus is pronouced 'hibiscus' you would say/write 'a hibiscus' and if you learned that hibiscus is pronouced 'ibiscus' you would say/write 'an hibiscus'.

ghoti is pointing out that English spelling is completely inconsistent which I agree - my prefered example is:

tough = "tuff"
though = "tho"
through = "threw"
thought = "thaut"

@Agilemind: your argument is also pointed out in the link and I agree.

BTW changing the English spelling can have disastrous consequences!
Imagine all English speaking people talking with a German accent ...
see this hilarious joke Read this aloud. :D

The problem is that English has complex spelling and complex phonetics (subtle diphtongues and all that), and, to make matters worse, the two don't correlate with each other.

ghoti is pointing out that English spelling is completely inconsistent

Plus, that's not a grammar thing. It helps to know that modern English words are not pronounced the way they were a few hundred years ago. From what I have read (and learned from discussions with someone who has studied this), the silent "k" and "p" at the beginning of words used to be vocalized. Other words, like "plough" (today spelled "plow") also had the "gh" vocalized.

Imagine all English speaking people talking with a German accent

I enjoyed the joke. I might have learned to speak German but I suffer from a phleghm (I love that word) defficiency.

wonderful discussion,

Other words, like "plough" (today spelled "plow")

Sorry @Rev, only in The Americas, still "plough" in UK.

Seems to me the only true "universal" languages are computer languages, where they have to be, or things start going horribly wrong............

Microsoft or ANSI? Oops. So much for universal.

Yeah, computer languages are the "universal" languages, like C++:

/** Ceci est une classe pour représenter l'état d'une particule.
 * \note Den här klass är bara för tvâ dimensioner.
 */
struct TeilchenStand {
  double position[2];
  double geschwindigkeit[2];
};

Computer languages are not universal, but all computer languages have what is called a "finite" grammar.
A compiler can make noting out of strukt or doble it HAS to be struct or double. We humans would understand what is meant by

 {
   position[2]; double
   geschwindigkeit[2]; double
} struct TeilchenStand;

a C++ compiler will go berserk, with a flow of error messages.

It can't be that hard if a dolt like me can learn it. Of course, I've been practising all my life.

Word question (no google allowed) - name an English word that has the same letter three times in a row (no hyphens).

Arrrgh!
Virtuuus
RRR (Recycle Reduce Reuse)
...

The interesting thing about spoken English and American dialects is that the you can track the changes in how Brittish English was spoken from New England to Georgia. New England was settled first and century by century the colonization moved south. The dialects of the mountain folk match how the Scotts spoke English and the flatlanders spoke more like the English.

goddessship
frillless

any proof that prove it. i don't think of these words to be universally accepted.

goddessship= i think should be like goddess-ship.Click Here.

that all about what i read about these words but it may be wrong.

What I also find rather troublesome is what I will call " the question repeat" at the end of a question.
Is it:
This is a question, isn't it?
or
This is a question, is it?
or
something else?

And I just noticed, I guess my use of "also" in the first sentence of this post is not good English. It is just a litteral translation of what I would say in Dutch. (Wat ik ook ...) (What I also ...)
Could anyone point meto some corrections? Thanks in advance.

The use of also is ok, but it should refer to something that was previously said. Since it doesn't, then also should have been omitted.

commented: Thanks AD :) +0

Is it:
(1) This is a question, isn't it?
or
(2) This is a question, is it?
or
something else?

I hear (1) the most often so in that sense it is the most right. But grammatically it doesn't really make sense since if one wanted to reply "it is a question" they would typically answer to the affirmative, despite the fact that you're gramatically saying "Yes, it isn't a question". This happens a lot because people add the "isn't it?" to express doubt in their statement and are seeking reinforcement/encouragement rather than actually asking a question -> rarely would anyone answer "No" to such a question.

Another option I quite like because it avoid that issue is the Canadian version which would be: "This is a question, eh?"

None of the above would be used in formal contexts, in formal contexts you would either use "Is this a question?" if you really meant to ask a question, or "This might be a question." or "I think this is a question" if you meant to express doubt.

commented: Thanks for thr info +0

Depending on what dictionary you use (I don't have an OED), goddessship may or may not be hyphenated.

Yay - I get to open the OED again -- Goddess-ship hyphenated, goddesshood is not. Sigh - I really want the full sized OED, even with one of those handsfree magnifying lenses with light it hard to read the 9 pages per page condensed version, getting old does have a couple of disadvantages.