'A' vs 'An' (with perilously precedential parentheses)


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Thread: 'A' vs 'An' (with perilously precedential parentheses)

  1. #1

    'A' vs 'An' (with perilously precedential parentheses)

    Hey guys, I've been languishing over a grammatical choice, so I figured I'd come and let someone else solve the problem for me.

    What's the opinion on the sentence:

    "We were able to enjoy the simple pleasure of a (relatively) early night..."

    That reads fine, yeah? But it means I've technically written "a early night". So do the brackets make it OK?
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  2. #2
    I'd de-bracket or de-relatively that sentence. I think your construction is fine, though.
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  3. #3
    I'm not an English major, but I say if you have (relatively) in brackets like that then it should be "a" (relatively) early night. To me it sounds better.

  4. #4
    I agree on both counts, and probably should just remove the brackets altogether (I just love putting stuff in brackets for some reason). [<----]

    It's something I've noticed a few times in what I'm writing, I seem to like this construction, so I just wanted to get another opinion on it. Seems like 'A' would be right, but a little part of me doesn't like the implicit "...a [word starting with a vowel]" or vice-versa.

    (Brackets)

    EDIT: The reason it caused me diffs, to elaborate, was that I initially had just written 'an early night', then remembered that the paragraph before had specified that it was like 2 am, so added the '(relatively)', and thus 'an' then had to become 'a'. Confused myself.
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Fru View Post
    I agree on both counts, and probably should just remove the brackets altogether (I just love putting stuff in brackets for some reason). [<----]
    Oh, I love brackets! My natural writing style (which often is unreadable [due to my often nested parentheticals] to typical humans) involves many such asides--sometimes with other types of punctuation. My editing process involves a lot of removing all of that.
    Wisdom is seldom boisterous.

    -- a guy I know --

    If you're into hillbilly themed pornography (and, really, who ISN'T these days?), check out Hidden Content and Hidden Content . There's no pornography, but everything IS written by a hillbilly.

  6. #6
    While parenthesis does indicate a superfluous part of the sentence, the fact that it's there means you still must follow grammatical rules. Use "a."

    Here's a fun one - how do you preface acronyms? Is it "a FBI agent" because it starts with "F", or "an FBI agent" because it sounds like "eff"?
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Gamer_2k4 View Post
    Here's a fun one - how do you preface acronyms? Is it "a FBI agent" because it starts with "F", or "an FBI agent" because it sounds like "eff"?
    I would opt for an FBI agent - which may well be wrong.

    Words that begin with a silent "h" could be fun too

  8. #8
    WF Veteran Bloggsworth's Avatar
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    I tried brackets, but the shelves fell down...
    A man in possession of a wooden spoon must be in want of a pot to stir.

  9. #9
    The focus is on the sound of the next word as if were being spoken; so 'an FBI agent' is correct, as is 'a (relatively) early night'.
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  10. #10
    Member TJ1985's Avatar
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    For me, I've never really heard of the rules concerned, so as Terry suggested, I think about which word sounds best.

    I bought an harmonica.
    I bought a harmonica.

    He rode an donkey.
    He rode a donkey.

    If you rattle both options around in your head, for me that helps figure out which one sounds right and which one is totally incorrect.
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