Main definitions of a in English

: a1a2A3

a1

(also an)

Pronunciation /ə//eɪ/

determiner

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

    ‘a man came out of the room’
    Compare with the
    ‘it has been an honour to meet you’
    • ‘"That campaign definitely had an effect," she says.’
    • ‘He has also written an opera and translated Dante's Inferno in order to produce an illustrated book of it.’
    • ‘Jack crouched down and hid behind a tree trunk.’
    • ‘Children need a place for their computer equipment, and parents need closet space for their clothing.’
    • ‘Bob's conducting a three-year internet romance with a girl he's never met.’
    • ‘An internal report written by a manager at the nuclear waste reprocessing plant was leaked this week.’
    • ‘Before making a decision, do an assessment of how you want to use your phone.’
    • ‘We had to write a story about a natural disaster for creative writing.’
    • ‘I received an email from Jo today.’
    • ‘My wife got me an unexpected Christmas gift this year.’
    1. 1.1 Used with units of measurement to mean one such unit.
      ‘a hundred’
      ‘a quarter of an hour’
      • ‘The attack came amid a major upsurge in violence across the country that has left a thousand dead.’
      • ‘There is barely an ounce of fat on his body, and he continues to make his team-mates look chubby.’
      • ‘I sent off an e-mail, just an hour ago, and he's already got me back online.’
      • ‘I look at these miserable people, and wouldn't trade my life with theirs for a million dollars.’
      • ‘About a mile further down the road, another dog ran out in front of the taxi.’
      • ‘I stopped to pick up a gallon of milk on my way home from work.’
    2. 1.2with negative One single; any.
      ‘I simply haven't a thing to wear’
      • ‘Most refugees say they never saw a drop of food aid - despite almost one million tonnes flooding into the country every year.’
      • ‘I had to own up to the fact that I'd never read a word by Crofts.’
      • ‘The film looks fantastic: there is not a spot, or a scratch, or a visual defect to be seen.’
      • ‘Incensed at the fiasco, I went back to the website to try and find a telephone number to call - not a thing!’
      • ‘I think there's not a person born that doesn't have a gift to offer in some way.’
    3. 1.3 Used when mentioning the name of someone not known to the speaker.
      ‘a Mr Smith telephoned’
      • ‘Does anyone know a Mr Daeller?’
      • ‘She was born in about 1670, the daughter of a Mr Freeman of Holbeach in Lincolnshire.’
      • ‘He was sent two poems from a Miss Ethel Malley, who wrote saying they were found among her brother's possessions after his death.’
      • ‘On September 29 a letter arrived at our address for a Ms L Doherty.’
      • ‘The latest letter was from a Mrs Singh, who complained about two radio stations.’
    4. 1.4 Someone like (the name specified)
      ‘you're no better than a Hitler’
      • ‘You need the methods of a Roosevelt.’
      • ‘Moore says that the organization has passed its Chamberlain period, and is now in need of a Churchill.’
      • ‘Called a Judas by his countrymen, he received an elbow from another player, and left the pitch injured.’
      • ‘Regarding academic medicine, it has become increasingly difficult for a Freud or a Mendel to gain recognition without university affiliation or corporate sponsorship.’
      • ‘What he lacks is the charisma of an Olivier, whose epochal Coriolanus is dazzlingly evoked in two pages of Kenneth Tynan's Curtains.’
  • 2Used to indicate membership of a class of people or things.

    ‘he is a lawyer’
    ‘this car is a BMW’
    • ‘My mom's a pharmacist and my dad's a realtor.’
    • ‘She's a banker, married to a stockbroker, and they have a daughter about the same age as Amy.’
    • ‘Lilly is a Siamese cat who survived a two-week cross-country move while stuck in a drawer.’
    • ‘Notice that every car seen in the show is a Chevrolet, out of consideration for their sponsor.’
    • ‘In 1984 he was granted his fervent wish to acquire a Picasso.’
  • 3In, 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’
    • ‘The price of gold rose last week to $309 an ounce - and at one point was $312, its highest for two years.’
    • ‘You can't drive over five miles an hour down any street in New York.’
    • ‘The truckers are angry at the rise in diesel prices, which currently average 81.3p a litre.’
    • ‘I type 15 words a minute with a lot of mistakes.’
    • ‘The site takes in 2,000 tons of trash on a typical day, charging an average $30 a ton.’

Usage

On the question of using a or an before words beginning with h, see an

Origin

Middle English: weak form of Old English ān ‘one’.

Pronunciation

a

/ə//eɪ/

Main definitions of a in English

: a1a2A3

a2

  • 1(in travel timetables) arrives.

    ‘Penzance a 0915’
  • 2in combination (in units of measurement) atto- (10⁻¹⁸).

  • 3British (with reference to sporting fixtures) away.

    ‘March 15 Sheffield United (a)’
  • 4(used before a date) before.

    ‘a1200’

"a"
Physics
  • Acceleration.

Main definitions of a in English

: a1a2A3

A3

(also a)

noun

  • 1The first letter of the alphabet.

    1. 1.1 Denoting the first in a set of items, categories, sizes, etc.
    2. 1.2 Denoting the first of two or more hypothetical people or things.
      ‘suppose A had killed B’
    3. 1.3 The highest class of academic mark.
      ‘a dazzling array of straight A's’
    4. 1.4 (in the UK) denoting the most important category of road, other than a motorway.
      ‘the A34’
      ‘busy A-roads’
    5. 1.5 Denoting the highest-earning socio-economic category for marketing purposes, including top management and senior professional personnel.
    6. 1.6Chess Denoting the first file from the left, as viewed from White's side of the board.
    7. 1.7 The first constant to appear in an algebraic expression.
    8. 1.8Geology Denoting the uppermost soil horizon, especially the topsoil.
    9. 1.9 The human blood type (in the ABO system) containing the A antigen and lacking the B.
    10. 1.10 (with numeral) denoting a series of international standard paper sizes each twice the area of the next, as A0, A1, A2, A3, A4, etc., A4 being 210 × 297 mm.
  • 2A shape like that of a capital A.

    in combination ‘an A-shape’
  • 3Music
    The sixth note of the diatonic scale of C major. The A above middle C is usually used as the basis for tuning and in modern music has a standard frequency of 440 Hz.

    1. 3.1 A key based on a scale with A as its keynote.

Phrases

  • from A to B

    • From one's starting point to one's destination.

      ‘most road atlases will get you from A to B’
      • ‘We need to put all the other things to one side and get from A to B safely at the appropriate speed.’
      • ‘I wanted to show people how to get from A to B in your life.’
      • ‘How else would you get someone from A to B unless you've used an airplane?’
      • ‘You could go from A to B directly, walking fast, neglecting the scenery, or instead you could choose to take your time.’
      • ‘The drivers are not concentrating and just going from A to B to distribute the goods.’
      • ‘As well as finding you the best way from A to B, the operators can also provide an emergency and breakdown service.’
      • ‘She said: ‘People will still be able to get from A to B - it may just take them that bit longer.’’
      • ‘Ask the ‘British Bobby’ for the nearest toilet or how to get from A to B, it is all part of his job.’
      • ‘It must also be rather boring and predictable sailing directly and single-mindedly from A to B to C.’
      • ‘People who need to travel from A to B will take an alternative route.’
  • from A to Z

    • Over the entire range; completely.

      ‘make sure you understand the subject from A to Z’
      • ‘The person has to fit from A to Z or else they're just not wanted.’
      • ‘Going through your list of accounts from A to Z won't really work.’
      • ‘If you complete all the steps from A to Z, the mission is a success.’
      • ‘They moved in with a heavy barrage of speculation from A to Z.’
      • ‘It wouldn't be something I'd have to take from A to Z, point-by-point, and argue and describe.’
      • ‘If everything is explained to us, from A to Z, then even an idiot can grasp it.’
      • ‘Most of my work has been in the comedy genre, so it's a dream role to get a chance to play a character that has a trajectory from A to Z.’
      • ‘The process moves from A to Z without cutting corners.’
      • ‘They could argue about who was smarter, who the teachers liked best, anything from A to Z they could argue about.’
      • ‘Instead, the opposition wants an independent committee to oversee the election from A to Z.’
  • plan A

    • One's original plan or strategy.

      ‘plan A having gone horribly wrong, Ferguson used the interval to change his formation’
      Compare with plan B
      • ‘Plan A, business as usual, is no longer a viable option.’
      • ‘Plan A had been for me to travel with Connie on the train, but there were no seats available.’
      • ‘We had Plan A and Plan B and Plan C.’
      • ‘Plan A is actually just to turn up on the day and make it up.’
      • ‘This is plan A; this is what I plan to do.’
      • ‘We had a review in the first week of the work to see if plan A was still the best way forward.’
      • ‘Why not just carry on with Plan A as if nothing has happened?’
      • ‘However, since football is now a 16-man game, he can bring on talented substitutes if plan A is not working.’
      • ‘You've got to still have a Plan B if Plan A doesn't work.’
      • ‘You either continue with plan A, or you look at alternatives.’
      • ‘We can't even resort to Plan B these days because we haven't got a Plan A!’
      • ‘If their coaches are talking differently October 1, you'll know Plan A didn't quite work.’
      • ‘Have a plan B in case plan A fails.’
      • ‘I don't know what plan A was, but it evidently failed.’
      • ‘I think the only reason you're back now is because Plan A disintegrated and I'm your contingency.’
      • ‘Fortunately, I have appealing contingency plans, but still first I'll apply myself to plan A with all my strength.’
      • ‘Plan A, to propose on Detonator, backfired when she saw the ride on the website and refused to go on it.’
      • ‘That's plan A, but I've a number of other plans.’
      • ‘Business as usual - Plan A - is clearly not working.’

Pronunciation

A

/eɪ/

  • 1(in card games) ace.

    ‘you cash ♥AK’
  • 2Against (heading the column in a table of sports results which shows the goals or points scored against each club).

  • 3informal A level.

  • 4Ampere(s).

  • 5Ångstrom(s).

  • 6Attack (in designations of US aircraft types)

    ‘an A-10’
  • 7Answer.

    ‘Q: What is a hung parliament? A: One in which no single party has an overall majority’
  • 8(in names of sports clubs) Athletic.

    ‘Dunfermline A’
  • 9Austria (international vehicle registration).