The words an and and are often confused because of their similar spelling. In this article, we explain the difference between them.
An is a determiner that means "the indefinite article before nouns with a vowel sound".
And is a conjunction that means "expressing two elements to be taken together or besides each other".
The Difference Between An vs And
Let's take a closer look at each word.
An is an indefinite article. It comes before a noun and it's used when you aren't referring to one specific noun.
An has the same meaning as a, but an precedes nouns that start with a vowel sound. (It's important to note that the sound of the noun is more important than the spelling. For instance, we would say an hour because hour sounds like it starts with an o.)
Examples of An in Sentences
- He took an apple from his pocket.
- It was an ordeal, but we finally made it.
- They knew it had been an honest mistake.
And is a conjunction. It can connect words that are the same part of speech, such as two adjectives (e.g. calm and steady) or two nouns (e.g. eggs and bacon). And can also connect independent and dependent clauses. You can even start a sentence with and if the new sentence is connected to the previous one.
Examples of And in Sentences
- Red, yellow, and blue are the three primary colors.
- In the UK, many people enjoy eating fish and chips by the seaside.
- Five and five make ten. And what about five minus five?
Is the correct phrase "put an end to" or "put and end to"?
The right expression is "put an end to" – e.g. She had to put an end to their meddling.
What's the right phrase, "play an important role" or "play and important role"?
The right expression is "play an important role" – e.g. Diet and exercise play an important role in a person's well-being.
Is the expression "an integral part of" or "and integral part of"?
The correct phrase is "an integral part of" – e.g. Plotting is an integral part of planning your novel.
Should I use "and it is" or "an it is"?
You should use "and it is" – e.g. Grammar rules are tricky, and it is easy for new writers to be put off by them.
Is the expression "and so on" or "an so on"?
You should use "and so on" – e.g. The table was laden with cakes, sandwiches, scones, and so on.