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I recently saw a reference to "an historical occasion.” I was always taught to use "a” before a hard h  (a house, a helper) and "an” before an h that isn’t pronounced (an hour, an herb). Has the rule changed?

You are correct in your thinking that "a” should be used before "history” or any other derivations of the word.  The popularity of "an” comes from British usage whereby a word beginning with a weakly pronounced h is preceded by an. Thus you might hear "an historian, "an habitual offender,” or  "an heroic ode.” In America today, the use of "a” is widespread and definitely preferred.





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