The time here is 6:07 AM, although I haven’t been that much of a politics geek and stayed up all night, I did get up at 4:30 in order to view the results of this election.
However, I’m not here to bore you with my thoughts on Obama. You can go to 10,000 other blogs for that.
I’m here to talk to you about some grammar.
Whilst watching the various news reporters and politicians, including Mccain; they all said that this was ‘an historic election’.
You probably know the grammar rule that says you use an before vowel sounds (e.g. an apple, an igloo, an hour) and a otherwise; e.g. a book, a report, a hotel.
Following this rule, we would say “a historic”, not “an historic”.
Words of three or more syllables that start with h are treated differently by some speakers, though. For example, which of these pairs of sentences sounds correct to you?
- It is a historic election.
- It is an historic election.
- We can’t agree on a hypothesis.
- We can’t agree on an hypothesis.
“A quick bit of Googling reveals that — as of March 2008 — the phrase “a historic” is used on 5.1 million pages (68%), and “an historic” on 2.34 million pages (32%).”
There is a clear preference here in favour of “a historic”. Even so, roughly one-third of the usage is for the other form. This supports the view that which form you use is little more than a personal preference.
Both usages are sufficiently common to be considered correct in modern English
Anything to take your mind of an historic occasion ‘ey?