A historic or an historic?

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  • #756

    Rank: Learner

    I have seen both “a historic” and “an historic” in writing. Which is right?

  • #783

    WriteWell Bros.
    Rank: Admin

    The simple answer to your question is that both forms are correct, but a historic is better.

    The use of versus an depends on the sound (not the spelling) of the word that comes after it. If the sound is a consonant, you use a. If the sound is a vowel, you use an. Since “historic” uses a hard h-sound, then should be used to match the consonant.

    Historically, there were some dialects of English in which the h-sound was less prominent. Words such as historichorrific, and others were pronounced mostly or completely without the h-sound, meaning an was necessary.

    The standard pronunciation of “historic” and other similar words all use the full h-sound today, in both American and British English. Therefore an historic is unnecessary. However, the tradition continues among some people and institutions, and is still used commonly enough that it is still considered correct. The frequency of an historic has dropped dramatically over the last several decades and it is becoming less and less common.

    So, while an historic is acceptable in many cases, you are much better off using a historic.

    Hope that helps! Let me know if you have more questions.


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