I had to correct someone about this today, so I thought I would explain a grammar rule that people instinctively follow when they’re talking but don’t follow in writing. So here we go:
People think that “a” goes before words that start with a consonant, while “an” goes before words that begin with a vowel.
But actually, “a” goes before words that begin with a consonant sound, while “an” is used for vowel sounds.
A lollipop (“la”)
An LCD screen (“el”)
A needle (“nee”)
An NPR station (“en”)
A universal remote (“yoo”)
An umbrella (“uh”)
This entry is primarily so I can link people to it when they ask me, but I hope you got something out of this. If you didn’t, then here is a picture of me and my newest neighbor, a baby pig named Gertrude Swine: