a1 /ə, eɪ / an


I. determiner

1. used when mentioning someone or something for the first time in a text or conversation

a man came out of the room
it has been an honour to meet you.
Compare with the.
2. used with units of measurement to mean one such unit

a hundred
a quarter of an hour.
3. [with negative] one single; any

I simply haven’t a thing to wear.
4. used when mentioning the name of someone not known to the speaker

a Mr Smith telephoned.
5. someone like (the name specified)

you’re no better than a Hitler.
6. used to indicate membership of a class of people or things

he is a lawyer
this car is a BMW.
7. in, to, or for each; per (used when expressing rates or ratios)

typing 60 words a minute
a move to raise petrol prices by 3p a litre.
– origin Middle English: weak form of Old English ān ‘one’. / usage: On the question of using a or an before words beginning with h, see usage at an.

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