I saw an article that popped up on my iPhone’s news feed this morning. It was about the U.S. and the Taliban having signed a peace agreement and it contained a sentence that read:
After a week-long “reduction in violence,” the US and Taliban have signed a historic agreement Saturday, which would set into motion the drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan and potentially pave the way to ending America’s longest-fought war.
My post, by the way, has nothing to do with that “historic agreement.” It does have to do, as the image at the top hints, with historic articles, though.
When I read that sentence, I was struck by the phrase “a historic.” Way back in my school days I was taught that the article “an” should be used before the letter “h.” After all, you wouldn’t say “I’ll meet you in a hour.” You’d say “…an hour.” Likewise, “It would be an honor,” not “a honor.” Right?
So the sentence in the article, based upon what I had learned, should have read “…have signed an historic agreement….”
Now I’m second guessing myself. Was I taught the wrong thing? Am I misremembering? Did I dream the whole thing up?
So, of course, I Googled it. Most of the sites I found said that “a historic” is correct. As one site explained:
The article “an” is correct before historic if the word is pronounced “istoric.” “A” is the correct article if the word is pronounced “historic,” beginning with an h sound. In print, at least in the United States, where the word is normally pronounced with an h, the correct written form is “a historic.”
Another site put it simply:
Here’s the basic rule: If the word begins with a consonant sound, the correct article is “a.” If the word begins with a vowel sound, the correct article is “an.”
So was I taught the wrong grammatical rule in my formative years, or did I just misunderstand how to apply the rule? In any event, “a historic” sounds awkward to me, while “an historic” sounds right.
What about you? Do you use an “a” or an “an” before the word “historic”?