Quick Tip #1: When to use A and An.
According to my linguistics professor, the use of A or An is specific to the sound of the word that follows. If the word that follows has a vowel like sound at the start, it’s an. If it doesn’t or sounds more like a consonant, it’s A. Plurality has nothing to do with it. Below is an example:
I went to ride a horse vs. I stopped within an hour.
The two sounds above are different. Horse sounds like (whore) whereas hour sounds like (owerr). The vowel sound is found within hour and not horse.
Quick Tip #2: Effect and Affect
Effect is the result, affect is the ongoing issue. I was affected by the effect of this sentence is how I remember it. Pretty simple but people consistently forget this.
Quick Tip #3: Insure and Ensure
Insure is for insurance, ensure is for everything else.
Ex: My car is insured. I just wanted to ensure you understood me.
Quick Tip #4: Apostrophes
Apostrophes have been abused by Americans for the better part of a century. I don’t know if it’s the fault of educators or the uneducated, but regardless it’s pretty rough. Here’s the breakdown.
Cars- plural Car’s radio- possessive. The apostrophe is used to denote possessive qualities, not plurality. That’s it!
I'm a high school English teacher in Texas. I also hold degrees in radiography and radio and television broadcasting. Though I obtained certain knowledge and skills from my prior degrees, I do not currently use them.