OLD friend Austin Holroyd, of Almondbury, raises an interesting point of English grammar.

“Something has been bugging me with the Examiner for the past 60 years or so, regarding what to do with ‘a’ and ‘an’ when it comes to words starting with the letter aitch. Regularly we read of ‘an’ horrific crash, but always of ‘a’ horror film. Similarly we might read of ‘an’ historical fact, but never ‘an’ history lesson.

Hotel is a bit different. This is verbal. It’s either an otel if we’re talking about it in French, or a hotel in English. Same with half an hour or an honorary degree.”

Austin asks me to explain it or if there should be a policy regarding usage. All I can say, is that I use ‘a’ or ‘an’ depending on how it sounds.

Can any English scholar supply a better answer? Or a better policy?