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"a" vs. "an" in sentence

English translation: a

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08:17 Oct 23, 2002
English to English translations [PRO]
English term or phrase: "a" vs. "an" in sentence
In the following context, is it better to use "a" or "an"?

He performed his duties in a/an - in our opinion - professional manner ...

i.e. "a" due to "professional" following the insertion, or "an" due to the word "in"?
Krokodil
Germany
Local time: 19:43
English translation:a
Explanation:
The dashes are a grammar construction indicating that what is between them can be completely omitted without changing the sentence to any degree.

The article is intended for "professional," therefore it should be "a".

In my opinion, the "- in our opinion -" is in the wrong place anyhow.

It probably reads better if written as,

"He performed his duties - in our opinion - in a professional manner"

or

"He performed his duties in a professional manner - in our opinion (, at least)."

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-10-23 09:26:59 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Regarding your added Note:

Without rewording... you might get a \"minus\" added along side of your grade. But leaving it as \"an\" might get an entire letter grade knocked off. Even leaving the sentence unedited, I would still propose \"a\". Grammatically speaking (as a check), if you can\'t remove \"in our opinion\" from the sentence without having to make a bunch of other edits, then what you originally wrote was probably wrong.

Dashes account for sentences like \"The dog - by the way, my friend Karen just bought a dog too - is spotted and has floppy ears.\" This sentence is grammatically correct.

Leaving the \"an\" in your sentence is like saying \"The dog - by the way, my friend Karen just bought a dog too - that\'s spotted and has floppy ears.\" This sentence, of course, is _not_ grammatically correct.

Why? try the trick... see what you get.



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Note added at 2002-10-23 09:45:28 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

You should probably check out the function of \"asides\" vs \"parenthetical phrases\" in a grammar book.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-10-23 20:27:52 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Just another note... If you do not pause where the dashes appear in the text, then you\'re probably not doing the punctuation justice when you read it aloud. A dash is considered a VERY strong punctuation marker to isolate that bit of information from the rest of the sentence. If you run it all together, then there would be no point in using any punctuation at all.

As I mentioned to Christopher Crockett, punctuation governs the way written text is to be spoken and understood. If you\'ve taken a Performance of Literature course, it would probably be a little clearer how the punctuation plays a role in how this sentence (in original form) is to be read. If I had a way to record the two options and upload the files, it would be 100% clear.

Furthermore -- regarding the cbolton comment about awkward sounding text, and people writing the way \"they\" speak -- this sort of writing may be suitable for a chat room on the internet or in a buddy-buddy conversation with a friend. From my standpoint however, spoken speech has always been more accepting of wrong or improper grammar usage. This is primarily the reason why issues such as this even come up.
Selected response from:

Bryan Crumpler
United States
Local time: 13:43
Grading comment
I would just like to point out that, regardless of whether or not the word order in this particular sentence should be changed, I was primarily interested in hearing views about how one would or should deal with this type of problem. Study of your comments confirms my own gut feeling that "a" is better (particularly if the half sentence is read aloud), although there may be something to be said for "an".

To prevent any possible misunderstandings, I would also like to point out that I didn't write the sentence in the first place and wouldn't have used this word order in any case.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
5 +18a
Bryan Crumpler
5 +5He performed his duties -in our opinion- in a professional manner
Monica Colangelo
5 +2an
Rolf Klischewski, M.A.
5In our opinion, he performed his duties in a professional manner.xxxY


Discussion entries: 1





  

Answers


5 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +18
a


Explanation:
The dashes are a grammar construction indicating that what is between them can be completely omitted without changing the sentence to any degree.

The article is intended for "professional," therefore it should be "a".

In my opinion, the "- in our opinion -" is in the wrong place anyhow.

It probably reads better if written as,

"He performed his duties - in our opinion - in a professional manner"

or

"He performed his duties in a professional manner - in our opinion (, at least)."

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-10-23 09:26:59 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Regarding your added Note:

Without rewording... you might get a \"minus\" added along side of your grade. But leaving it as \"an\" might get an entire letter grade knocked off. Even leaving the sentence unedited, I would still propose \"a\". Grammatically speaking (as a check), if you can\'t remove \"in our opinion\" from the sentence without having to make a bunch of other edits, then what you originally wrote was probably wrong.

Dashes account for sentences like \"The dog - by the way, my friend Karen just bought a dog too - is spotted and has floppy ears.\" This sentence is grammatically correct.

Leaving the \"an\" in your sentence is like saying \"The dog - by the way, my friend Karen just bought a dog too - that\'s spotted and has floppy ears.\" This sentence, of course, is _not_ grammatically correct.

Why? try the trick... see what you get.



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-10-23 09:45:28 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

You should probably check out the function of \"asides\" vs \"parenthetical phrases\" in a grammar book.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-10-23 20:27:52 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Just another note... If you do not pause where the dashes appear in the text, then you\'re probably not doing the punctuation justice when you read it aloud. A dash is considered a VERY strong punctuation marker to isolate that bit of information from the rest of the sentence. If you run it all together, then there would be no point in using any punctuation at all.

As I mentioned to Christopher Crockett, punctuation governs the way written text is to be spoken and understood. If you\'ve taken a Performance of Literature course, it would probably be a little clearer how the punctuation plays a role in how this sentence (in original form) is to be read. If I had a way to record the two options and upload the files, it would be 100% clear.

Furthermore -- regarding the cbolton comment about awkward sounding text, and people writing the way \"they\" speak -- this sort of writing may be suitable for a chat room on the internet or in a buddy-buddy conversation with a friend. From my standpoint however, spoken speech has always been more accepting of wrong or improper grammar usage. This is primarily the reason why issues such as this even come up.

Bryan Crumpler
United States
Local time: 13:43
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 56
Grading comment
I would just like to point out that, regardless of whether or not the word order in this particular sentence should be changed, I was primarily interested in hearing views about how one would or should deal with this type of problem. Study of your comments confirms my own gut feeling that "a" is better (particularly if the half sentence is read aloud), although there may be something to be said for "an".

To prevent any possible misunderstandings, I would also like to point out that I didn't write the sentence in the first place and wouldn't have used this word order in any case.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Fuad Yahya: In our opinion, he performed his duties in a professional manner.
3 mins
  -> Good option, but it alters the intention _slightly_. The IOO is supposed to be an "aside," and doing this makes it a "parenthetical phrase"

agree  Yelena.
7 mins

agree  Chris Rowson
7 mins

agree  Steffen Walter: like Fuad's variation best
13 mins
  -> Yeah, I thought the same, but then again I was particularly trying to treat the sentence contruction by leaving "in our opinion" as a superflous addition to the sentence.

agree  Catherine Bolton
14 mins

agree  Kimberli Mäkäräinen: This is the only correct way.
43 mins

agree  Clair@Lexeme: agree with your reasoning, but I like trixiemck's way of getting around the problem
53 mins
  -> that's exactly what I wrote... 5th line down

agree  Sven Petersson
59 mins

agree  luskie
59 mins

agree  Patrick McKeown: see what cbolton says about pronunciation, this is a case of someone writing as "they" speak;if you don't feel that works for you, then it would be a good idea to follow the suggestions on rewording
1 hr

agree  Tony M: Excellently put!
1 hr

agree  Martin Perazzo: I agree with everything you say. To improve the sentence's flow, my option would be to insert "In our opinion" at the beginning.
1 hr

agree  Emilia Carneiro
5 hrs

agree  Piotr Kurek
5 hrs

agree  Marion Burns: Changing the word order is the easier and--in my opinion--better option.
5 hrs

neutral  Christopher Crockett: All excellent points. But you're still left with "a in" if speaking the words. A definite No-No, unless you're a Talking Head on the TeeVee in the U.S. Or an Airheaded Polititian. In which case, Everything's O.K.
6 hrs
  -> Totally wrong! Punctuation governs the way English is spoken & understood. You're not left w/ "a in," you're left w/ "a - in". The dash plays an important role in how the text is to be read aloud & ignoring that is what's caused this issue to begin with.

agree  Tatiana Neroni
6 hrs

agree  jccantrell
14 hrs

neutral  xxxY: Agree with Christopher 100%. You can't answer a meaningless question (Philosophy 101). The original sentence is simply wrong.
11 days

agree  AhmedAMS
24 days
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6 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +2
an


Explanation:
Because it's meant to make the utterance of the NEXT word easier.

Rolf Klischewski, M.A.
Local time: 19:43
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in pair: 12

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Catherine Bolton: Try saying it aloud though. It sounds wrong. To avoid the problem, I'd reword the sentence.
12 mins

neutral  Chris Rowson: It´s not quite as simple as that. Almost, but it doesn´t apply here for the reason crumpler gives.
12 mins

neutral  Kimberli Mäkäräinen: It really should be reworded to make it more fluent, but 'an' shouldn't be used.
42 mins

agree  Christopher Crockett: cbolton is right, it does *sound* somewhat wrong. But that's because it's worded so awkwardly. If you *insist* on this wording, then "an" is a must, before "in." But the wording is the problem.
5 hrs
  -> I entirely agree. If you don't want to rephrase it, I think you have to stick with "an". Then again, I'm no native speaker... (C;

agree  xxxY: Christopher and Rolf are right.
11 days
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21 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +5
He performed his duties -in our opinion- in a professional manner


Explanation:
To avoid the conflict...

Monica Colangelo
Argentina
Local time: 14:43
Native speaker of: Native in SpanishSpanish
PRO pts in pair: 59

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Rolf Klischewski, M.A.
35 mins
  -> Thanks, Rolf

agree  Paul Svensson
4 hrs
  -> Thanks, Paul

agree  Marion Burns: This is--in my opinion--the best option.
5 hrs
  -> Thank you kindly, Marion

agree  María Alejandra Funes
6 hrs
  -> Gracias, Ale

agree  AhmedAMS
25 days
  -> Thanks, Ahmed
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12 days   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
In our opinion, he performed his duties in a professional manner.


Explanation:
This is the only solution that is right, sounds right, looks right and flows idiomatically.

xxxY
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