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“an horrendous error”

July 6, 2018

Antoine Griezmann has just scored for France after a dreadful mistake by the Uruguayan goalkeeper, palming the ball into his own net. One can’t help feeling sorry for him (the goalie).  But what I’d like to know is, why did the commentator call it “an horrendous error’? One uses an before a vowel sound; you learn that in primary school. But horrendous does not begin with a vowel sound. It begins with an h. If the h is silent, then OK: I’ll see you in an hour, It’s an honour to be here, an honest man etc. But horrendous doesn’t have a silent h. I don’t know what that commentator thought he was doing. Probably thought it was an example of “good English”.

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  1. Simon Carter permalink

    It’s a curious one because none of the synonyms would work with “an”: hideous, horrible, horrifying, heinous, horrid, harrowing all sound worse and probably wouldn’t be used. Bet they said worse in Uruguay though.

  2. That’s true! Nobody would think of saying ‘an horrible’ or ‘an harrowing’. I wonder what it is about ‘horrendous’ that made ‘an’ seem suitable?

    • Simon Carter permalink

      Could it be the hotel / an ‘otel pronunciation
      complicating things?

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