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Difference Between A Historic or An Historic

A Historic or An Historic

When it comes to English grammar and usage, even small details like the choice of an article can spark considerable debate. This is certainly the case with the phrases “a historic” and “an historic.” Although they seem similar, the choice between “a” and “an” before the word “historic” has been a subject of discussion among linguists, writers, and grammar enthusiasts. Let’s delve into these terms to understand their usage, origin, and pronunciation, and how they differ in various contexts.

AspectA HistoricAn Historic
DefinitionUsed with a sounded ‘h’Used with a silent or weakly pronounced ‘h’
OriginStandard EnglishInfluenced by French pronunciation
Pronunciation/eɪ ‘hɪstɒrɪk//æn ‘ɪstɒrɪk/ or /æn ‘hɪstɒrɪk/
Common inGeneral English usageFormal, especially British English
Example SentenceA historic event changed the course of the country.“An historic occasion is remembered for centuries.”

Difference Between “A Historic” and “An Historic”

Definition of “A Historic”

A historic" is a phrase where the article "a" is used before the adjective "historic." The usage of "a" is based on the pronunciation where the 'h' in "historic" is sounded. This is in line with the general English rule that uses "a" before words that begin with a consonant sound.
historic vs. historical

Definition of “An Historic”

On the other hand, "an historic" uses the article "an," which typically precedes words starting with a vowel sound. This usage stems from a pronunciation of "historic" where the 'h' is silent or very softly pronounced, making the initial sound of the word similar to a vowel. This form is often associated with British English and can be traced back to French influences on the English language.

Origin of “A Historic”

The use of “a” before “historic” follows the standard rules of English grammar, which dictate the use of “a” before words that start with a consonant sound. This form is more common in modern English and is widely accepted in both written and spoken language.

Origin of “An Historic”

The phrase “an historic” originates from a time when the ‘h’ in certain words was not pronounced as distinctly as it is today. This pronunciation was particularly prevalent among the upper classes in England and was influenced by the French language, where the ‘h’ is often silent.


  • “A Historic”: Pronounced as /eɪ ‘hɪstɒrɪk/, with a clear ‘h’ sound at the beginning of “historic.”
  • “An Historic”: Pronounced as /æn ‘ɪstɒrɪk/ or /æn ‘hɪstɒrɪk/, with a silent or very softly pronounced ‘h’ in “historic.”

Comparing “A Historic” and “An Historic”

The primary difference between “a historic” and “an historic” lies in the pronunciation of the initial ‘h’ in “historic.” The choice between the two forms often reflects regional pronunciation habits, with “a historic” being more prevalent in American English and “an historic” more commonly found in British English. However, the trend is shifting, and even in British English, the pronunciation with a pronounced ‘h’ is becoming more common, making “a historic” the more universally accepted form.

Usage in Sentences with Explanations

Use of “A Historic” in Sentences

  1. A Historic Event: “A historic peace treaty was signed yesterday.”
    • Explanation: The ‘h’ in “historic” is pronounced, making “a” the appropriate article.
  2. A Historic Moment: “We witnessed a historic launch of the new spacecraft.”
    • The clear ‘h’ sound in “historic” dictates the use of “a.”
  3. A Historic Decision: “The court’s ruling was a historic one for human rights.”
    • The emphasis on the ‘h’ sound in “historic” continues to support the use of “a.”
  4. A Historic Day: “It was a historic day for the nation.”
    • The pronunciation with a sounded ‘h’ in “historic” is followed.
  5. A Historic Achievement: “Completing this project is a historic achievement.”
    • The consonant sound at the beginning of “historic” necessitates the use of “a.”

Use of “An Historic” in Sentences

  1. An Historic Event: “An historic agreement changed the political landscape.”
    • Explanation: The ‘h’ in “historic” is either silent or very softly pronounced, leading to the use of “an.”
  2. An Historic Occasion: “This is an historic day for all of us.”
    • The pronunciation with a silent ‘h’ in “historic” justifies the use of “an.”
  3. An Historic Era: “We are living in an historic era.
    • The soft ‘h’ sound in “historic” supports the use of “an.”
  4. An Historic Achievement: “An historic achievement like this is rare.”
    • The initial sound of “historic” is vowel-like, making “an” appropriate.
  5. An Historic Journey: “They embarked on an historic journey.”
    • The silent or softly pronounced ‘h’ in “historic” leads to the use of “an.”
historical preservation


In conclusion, the debate between “a historic” and “an historic” centers around pronunciation. “A historic” is more aligned with modern pronunciation where the ‘h’ in “historic” is clearly sounded, while “an historic” reflects a historical or formal style where the ‘h’ is silent or less pronounced. The trend is moving towards the more phonetic “a historic,” but understanding the context and pronunciation style of your audience can guide the appropriate usage.

Commonly Asked Questions

  1. Is “an historic” grammatically correct?
    • Yes, “an historic” is grammatically correct in contexts where the ‘h’ in “historic” is silent or softly pronounced, although this usage is becoming less common.
  2. Which is more commonly used, “a historic” or “an historic”?
    • “A historic” is more commonly used, especially in American English and in modern English usage where the ‘h’ in “historic” is pronounced.
  3. Can the use of “an historic” be considered outdated?
    • While not necessarily outdated, “an historic” is more formal and traditional, reflecting older pronunciation patterns. Its usage is less frequent in contemporary English.


Is it correct to say “a historic” or “an historic”?

The general consensus is that “a historic” is the more common and correct usage. However, some people still use “an historic” due to historical pronunciation changes.

When should I use “historical”?

“Historical” is commonly used for broad and general references to history, such as historical sites or the historical significance of events.

When should I use “historic”?

“Historic” is used to describe something that is famous or important in history, such as historic landmarks or historic events.

What is the difference between “historic” and “historical”?

“Historic” refers to events, objects, or places that are considered important parts of history or have historical significance. “Historical” encompasses anything and everything that has happened in the past, regardless of its level of importance.

How do I ensure correct usage of “a historic” or “an historic”?

Both should be preceded by “a” due to the audible “h” sound in historic and historical. Additionally, consider the specific context and significance of the noun being described.

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith, writer at, blends creativity with insight, exploring technology, culture, and psychology. With a background in English Literature, she crafts engaging stories inspired by nature and urban life. Outside writing, she enjoys exploring and continuous learning.View Author posts

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