Do you use A or An before words that start with U?

We use “a” before words that have a “y” sound and “an” before words that don’t have a “y” sound when the word starts with “u”

“A” and “An” are called indefinite articles and usually follow the rule of “a” before words that start consonants and “an” with words that start with “vowels”. That isn’t always the case when some letters have different sounds.

The two most common letters that are exceptions are “h” which is sometimes silent and therefore the word could start with the second letter and “u” which sometimes sounds like a “y” when it is pronounced. 

If you need to decide whether to use “a” or “an” before a word beginning with “u” the best thing you can do is to say the word out loud and decide if it has a “y” sound at the beginning like “A University”.

Let’s look at some more examples

A before U examples

  • Do you have a University in this town?
  • We need a unicorn for the stage.
  • We are a united team.
  • I bought a used car.
  • This is a one-horse town. 

An before U examples

  • Always bring an umbrella.
  • This is an urgent matter.
  • What an unequivocal answer!
  • An unemployed person should have the same rights as an employed person.
  • It was an unfortunate mistake.

A or An before Unusual

We use “ An” before “unusual”.

It was an unusual afternoon.

A or An before University

We use “ A” before “University”.

Is there a university nearby?

A or An before User

We use “ A” before “user”.

We need a user who doesn’t know us.

A or An before US

We use “ A” before “US”.

Microsoft is a US company.

A or An before Utah

We use “ A” before “Utah”.

Salt Lake City is a Utah city.