A DESK BOOK OF
ERRORS IN ENGLISH
a, an: Before an aspirated "h," as in "Hibernianism," the article "a" should be used, "A" is used when the next word begins with a consonant sound; "an" when it begins with a vowel or silent "h." Though never so feebly aspirated, "h" has something of a consonant sound, and the article in this case ought to conform to the general principle, as in "a historic introduction has generally a happy effect to arouse attention." To be correct one should say: an island, a Highlander; an oysterman, a hoister; a hotel, an onion; a herb, an heir; a house, an owl. Some persons do not aspirate the "h" in "herb"; when the "h" is not aspirated, the word takes the article "an," not "a."
abandon, forsake, desert: To abandon is to give up entirely, as home and friends, and implies previous association with responsibility for or control; to forsake is to leave or withdraw from a person or place, and suggests previous association with inclination or