Main definitions of a in English

: A1A2

A1

(also a)

noun

  • 1The first letter of the alphabet.

    1. 1.1Denoting the first in a set of items, categories, sizes, etc.
    2. 1.2Denoting the first of two or more hypothetical people or things.
      ‘suppose A had killed B’
    3. 1.3The 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. 1.5The first fixed quantity in an algebraic expression.
    6. 1.6The 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. 3.1A key based on a scale with A as its keynote.

Pronunciation:

A

/ā/

Main definitions of a in English

: A1A2

A2

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

    ‘you cash AK of hearts’
  • 2Ampere(s)

  • 3Ångstrom(s)

  • 4Attack (in designations of US aircraft types)

    ‘an A-10’
  • 5Answer.

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

  • 7British informal A level.

Pronunciation:

A

/ā/

Main definitions of a in English

: A1A2

a

(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’
    • ‘He has also written an opera and translated Dante's Inferno in order to produce an illustrated book of it.’
    • ‘An internal report written by a manager at the nuclear waste reprocessing plant was leaked this week.’
    • ‘We had to write a story about a natural disaster for creative writing.’
    • ‘Jack crouched down and hid behind a tree trunk.’
    • ‘"That campaign definitely had an effect," she says.’
    • ‘Children need a place for their computer equipment, and parents need closet space for their clothing.’
    • ‘I received an email from Jo today.’
    • ‘Bob's conducting a three-year internet romance with a girl he's never met.’
    • ‘Before making a decision, do an assessment of how you want to use your phone.’
    • ‘My wife got me an unexpected Christmas gift this year.’
    1. 1.1Used 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.’
      • ‘I stopped to pick up a gallon of milk on my way home from work.’
      • ‘About a mile further down the road, another dog ran out in front of the taxi.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I look at these miserable people, and wouldn't trade my life with theirs for a million dollars.’
    2. 1.2[with negative]One single; any.
      ‘I simply haven't a thing to wear’
      • ‘The film looks fantastic: there is not a spot, or a scratch, or a visual defect to be seen.’
      • ‘Most refugees say they never saw a drop of food aid - despite almost one million tonnes flooding into the country every year.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Incensed at the fiasco, I went back to the website to try and find a telephone number to call - not a thing!’
    3. 1.3Used when mentioning the name of someone not known to the speaker.
      ‘a Mr. Smith telephoned’
      • ‘She was born in about 1670, the daughter of a Mr Freeman of Holbeach in Lincolnshire.’
      • ‘Does anyone know a Mr Daeller?’
      • ‘The latest letter was from a Mrs Singh, who complained about two radio stations.’
      • ‘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.’
    4. 1.4Someone like (the name specified)
      ‘you're no better than a Hitler’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You need the methods of a Roosevelt.’
      • ‘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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 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.’
    • ‘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.’

Usage

1 The article a can be pronounced either /ā/, when stressed (“He gave you a flower?”—that is, only one flower), or /ə/, when unstressed (“He gave you a flower?”—that is, the emphasis is on flower, not on the number of flowers). The form an is used before words beginning with a vowel sound. 2 On the question of using a or an before words beginning with h, see also an

Origin

Middle English: weak form of ān one.

Pronunciation:

a

/ā/