“A University” or “An University” – When to Use a/an in English?

“A university” or “an university” – Which is correct? And why? When to use “a” and when to use “an” in sentence? Everything will be revealed and explained clearlyto youin our today’s writing!



As a learner of English, the grammar rule of how to use indefinite articles (a and an) is the very basic knowledge that you was taught when learning the very first lessons of English, right? And before jumping into further details in this writing, we want to ask you this question related to the usage of “a” and “an” in sentence. The question is “Which one between these 2 following sentences is correct?

There’s a university in my hometown.

There’s an university in my hometown.

Do you have your own answer to our question? Well, let’s keep it in your mind to seeif your choice is correct or incorrect in the next part of this post. But before that, we’ll check out the general rule of using a/an. Let’s do it right now!!!

When to use a/an? – General rule of using indefinite articles

We all know that the indefinite articles have 2 forms – “a” and “an”, and they only appear with singular nouns. While “a” precedes a word that starts with a consonant, “an” precedes a word that starts with a vowel (a, i, e, o, u, and sometimes y as well). With this rule, we always have the words like “a book”, “a gift”, “a cat”, “an apple”, “an idea”, and so, right?

As applying this rule for the case of the word “university”, we need to use the article “an” because “U” – a vowel, is the first letter of this word. As a result, we will have “an university”. But it’s really correct to say“an university”, isn’t it? Or “a university” is the right way to use indefinite article in this case. Let’s move on to see which one is grammatically correct.

A university or an university

First, we have to tell you that “a university” is always grammatical correct, not “an university”. It’s wrong to say “an university” and that’s also a quite common mistake that many learners of English make when it comes to using indefinite articles. But why is it “a university” instead of “an university”?

In fact, the general rule of using indefinite articles as mentioned above is right for a lot of words, but not all. There are a few exceptions to this rule and of course, the word “university” is one among these.

Despite the fact that the word “university” begins with a vowel, the U in university is pronounced with the consonant sound of “yoo” or “you”. Because this word actually starts with a consonant sound, we always say “a university” instead of “an university”. Now we certainly know that “There’s a university in my hometown” is the correct answer to the question in the introduction of this writing.

Other common exceptionsto the general rule of using a/an

Together with the word “university”, there are some other English words that don’t follow the general rule of using a/an. While article “an” comes with some words begin with consonants, “a” precedes words starting with vowels. Below here is the table listing some common exceptions to the general rule of using indefinite articles that you should remember:

“A” + words starting with vowels “An” + words starting with consonants
Union: A union (Not an union) Hour: An Hour (Not a hour)
User: A user – Not an user Honest: An Honest person (Not a honest person)
Useful: A useful advice (Not an useful advice) Historic: An historic occasion (not a historic occasion)
A UK-based company (not an UK-based company) An LCD display (not a LCD display)
A URL (not an URL) An HR department (not a HR department)

Note: The general rule of using a/an also applies to the sound of the first letter of the word, not just only the letter itself. Remember that the way we pronounce the word will determine the indefinite article (a or an) we have to use.


After all, now we know that “a”, not “an”, is the right article to go with the word “university”. It’s always “a university”. “Anuniversity” is definitely grammatically incorrect.

Besides, we also learned about the rule of using a/an in sentence. Always keep in your mind that you need to use “a” for words beginning with a consonant sound and, of course, “an” for words beginning with a vowel sound. Therefore, the use of “a” or “an” is also based on how the word is pronounced, not only the way that how it is written. Just remember this rule, you will be able to always use “a” and “an” properly in both written and spoken English.

In the end, we really hope that the knowledge and information we introduced in this post are all actually helpful to you. If you find it useful, let’s like and share it!

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