Main definitions of a in English

: a1a2A3

a1

(also an)

determiner

  • 1Used when referring to 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 honor to have you’
    ‘we need people with a knowledge of languages’
    • ‘An internal report written by a manager at the nuclear waste reprocessing plant was leaked this week.’
    • ‘I received an email from Jo today.’
    • ‘My wife got me an unexpected Christmas gift this year.’
    • ‘We had to write a story about a natural disaster for creative writing.’
    • ‘Jack crouched down and hid behind a tree trunk.’
    • ‘He has also written an opera and translated Dante's Inferno in order to produce an illustrated book of it.’
    • ‘Children need a place for their computer equipment, and parents need closet space for their clothing.’
    • ‘Before making a decision, do an assessment of how you want to use your phone.’
    • ‘"That campaign definitely had an effect," she says.’
    • ‘Bob's conducting a three-year internet romance with a girl he's never met.’
    1. 1.1 Used with units of measurement to mean one such unit.
      ‘a hundred’
      ‘a quarter of an hour’
      • ‘I stopped to pick up a gallon of milk on my way home from work.’
      • ‘The attack came amid a major upsurge in violence across the country that has left a thousand dead.’
      • ‘About a mile further down the road, another dog ran out in front of the taxi.’
      • ‘I look at these miserable people, and wouldn't trade my life with theirs for a million dollars.’
      • ‘I sent off an e-mail, just an hour ago, and he's already got me back online.’
      • ‘There is barely an ounce of fat on his body, and he continues to make his team-mates look chubby.’
    2. 1.2with negative One single; any.
      ‘I simply haven't a thing to wear’
      • ‘Incensed at the fiasco, I went back to the website to try and find a telephone number to call - not a thing!’
      • ‘The film looks fantastic: there is not a spot, or a scratch, or a visual defect to be seen.’
      • ‘I think there's not a person born that doesn't have a gift to offer in some way.’
      • ‘I had to own up to the fact that I'd never read a word by Crofts.’
      • ‘Most refugees say they never saw a drop of food aid - despite almost one million tonnes flooding into the country every year.’
    3. 1.3 Used when mentioning the name of someone not known to the speaker.
      ‘a Mr. Smith telephoned’
      • ‘The latest letter was from a Mrs Singh, who complained about two radio stations.’
      • ‘On September 29 a letter arrived at our address for a Ms L Doherty.’
      • ‘He was sent two poems from a Miss Ethel Malley, who wrote saying they were found among her brother's possessions after his death.’
      • ‘Does anyone know a Mr Daeller?’
      • ‘She was born in about 1670, the daughter of a Mr Freeman of Holbeach in Lincolnshire.’
    4. 1.4 Someone like (the name specified)
      ‘you're no better than a Hitler’
      • ‘What he lacks is the charisma of an Olivier, whose epochal Coriolanus is dazzlingly evoked in two pages of Kenneth Tynan's Curtains.’
      • ‘Regarding academic medicine, it has become increasingly difficult for a Freud or a Mendel to gain recognition without university affiliation or corporate sponsorship.’
      • ‘You need the methods of a Roosevelt.’
      • ‘Called a Judas by his countrymen, he received an elbow from another player, and left the pitch injured.’
      • ‘Moore says that the organization has passed its Chamberlain period, and is now in need of a Churchill.’
  • 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She's a banker, married to a stockbroker, and they have a daughter about the same age as Amy.’
    • ‘In 1984 he was granted his fervent wish to acquire a Picasso.’
  • 3Used when expressing rates or ratios; in, to, or for each; per.

    ‘typing 60 words a minute’
    ‘cost as much as eight dollars a dozen’
    • ‘The site takes in 2,000 tons of trash on a typical day, charging an average $30 a ton.’
    • ‘You can't drive over five miles an hour down any street in New York.’
    • ‘I type 15 words a minute with a lot of mistakes.’
    • ‘The price of gold rose last week to $309 an ounce - and at one point was $312, its highest for two years.’
    • ‘The truckers are angry at the rise in diesel prices, which currently average 81.3p a litre.’

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

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.
    4. 1.4Chess Denoting the first file from the left, as viewed from White's side of the board.
    5. 1.5 The first fixed quantity in an algebraic expression.
    6. 1.6"A" The human blood type (in the ABO system) containing the A agglutinogen and lacking the B.
  • 2A shape like that of a capital A.

    in combination ‘an A-shape’
    See also A-frame, A-line
  • 3Music
    The sixth note of the diatonic scale of C major.

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

    • Over the entire range; completely.

      ‘make sure you understand the subject from A to Z’
      • ‘If everything is explained to us, from A to Z, then even an idiot can grasp it.’
      • ‘Instead, the opposition wants an independent committee to oversee the election from A to Z.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They could argue about who was smarter, who the teachers liked best, anything from A to Z they could argue about.’
      • ‘It wouldn't be something I'd have to take from A to Z, point-by-point, and argue and describe.’
      • ‘Going through your list of accounts from A to Z won't really work.’
      • ‘The person has to fit from A to Z or else they're just not wanted.’
      • ‘The process moves from A to Z without cutting corners.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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 is actually just to turn up on the day and make it up.’
      • ‘Plan A, to propose on Detonator, backfired when she saw the ride on the website and refused to go on it.’
      • ‘You either continue with plan A, or you look at alternatives.’
      • ‘This is plan A; this is what I plan to do.’
      • ‘Plan A, business as usual, is no longer a viable option.’
      • ‘We had Plan A and Plan B and Plan C.’
      • ‘That's plan A, but I've a number of other plans.’
      • ‘Fortunately, I have appealing contingency plans, but still first I'll apply myself to plan A with all my strength.’
      • ‘Business as usual - Plan A - is clearly not working.’
      • ‘I don't know what plan A was, but it evidently failed.’
      • ‘Why not just carry on with Plan A as if nothing has happened?’
      • ‘Plan A had been for me to travel with Connie on the train, but there were no seats available.’
      • ‘If their coaches are talking differently October 1, you'll know Plan A didn't quite work.’
      • ‘We can't even resort to Plan B these days because we haven't got a Plan A!’
      • ‘You've got to still have a Plan B if Plan A doesn't work.’
      • ‘I think the only reason you're back now is because Plan A disintegrated and I'm your contingency.’
      • ‘Have a plan B in case plan A fails.’
      • ‘However, since football is now a 16-man game, he can bring on talented substitutes if plan A is not working.’
      • ‘We had a review in the first week of the work to see if plan A was still the best way forward.’

Pronunciation

A

/eɪ//ā/

  • 1Ace (used in describing play in bridge and other card games)

    ‘you cash AK of hearts’
  • 2informal A level.

  • 3Ampere(s)

  • 4Ångstrom(s)

  • 5Attack (in designations of US aircraft types)

    ‘an A-10’
  • 6Answer.

    ‘Q: What's the senator's zodiac sign? A: He's a Leo’
  • 7(in personal ads) Asian.