Talk:a

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Miscellaneous comments[edit]

Regarding translations for this word, several of the languages in the list to not use articles at all. It would be better to indicate this instead of presuming that one will be found. Eclecticology 15:44 Apr 11, 2003 (UTC)


This page is in desperate need of a clean-up. I have added it to the cleanup page.

Does Vietnamese have its own alphabet? If this is just the Latin alphabet, then there is no point in having a Vietnamese entry saying that A is the first letter.

Paul G 15:48, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Vietnamese does have its own alphabet which, like English, is derived from but not "just" the Latin alphabet. It has 5 extra letters which are not used in English including one or two which are used in some European languages. It also 4 or 5 diacritics which are drawn above or below the vowel letters to designate tones. — Hippietrail 11:02, 7 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I've removed the bolloks about articles being adjectives. But the format or choice of headings is still not good. For instance it's difficult to find the right place to put the synonyms/alternative spelling "an", and the "see also" to "the" and "one". — Hippietrail 01:50, 7 Sep 2004 (UTC)


It could still use a good bollocking. It's on my hit list. -dmh 04:19, 15 Sep 2004 (UTC)


I've added a generic sense of ranking on a scale denoted by letters, but the specific sense of letter grade should stay. It's idiomatic enough (at least throughout the US) that when someone says "I got a D." it's immediately clear that they are referring to a course or exam, and that D is the lowest of the four passing grades. If this definition were missing, someone familiar with English but not with this particular system could miss these connotations. -dmh 02:46, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)


Was the last change by 212.179.235.102 in the Latin entry; ablative case -> procrastinative case valid? I think not. — Hippietrail 11:09, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)


An anonymous user decided to treat the indefinite article sense as its own entity and provide an incomplete description of the alternation with an. The entry for an has a much more complete account, and there is no point in duplication. If there's any doubt that an is primary, consider the etymology (originally from Anglo-Saxon, cognate with one, unum, een etc.) and that there are plenty of examples of consonants being dropped in commonly-used form (o'clock for example) and few if any of a consonant being randomly added. -dmh 15:58, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Part of speech[edit]

Should this be listed as ===Article=== and further qualified on the definition lines? --Connel MacKenzie T C 19:29, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

Gregg Shorthand Spelling[edit]

There are different wiki-definitions for capital A and lowercase a. It looks like the lowercase a is defined as an indefinite article, the capital as a noun or symbol, e.g. - Exam grade of A, or blood type A. Wouldn't a capital A used as a noun usually be spelled in Gregg as a, rather than [dot]? --Frank N Stein 14:38, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

The [dot] is merely an outline for the indefinite articles 'a' and 'an.' The large ellipse stands in for three different vowels that are written differently in traditional English longhand. They can be distinguished, if need be, by writing a dot or check beneath the vowel; however, this is typically unnecessary. -- Anon, 3:00 GMT, 6 March 2006

"A" and project Gutenberg[edit]

The word "A" is NOT the 5th most common word used in the English language, according to the Project Gutenberg list from 4/16/2006. It is closer to 80. [1]

The list that the editor was referring to was the one from TV and movie scripts. [2]

Kyle65.94.125.201 07:31, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

I've received a fair amount of criticism for my analysis (ongoing) or the Project Gutenberg texts. Particularly, the {{rank}} was at one time, deemed to be of such insignificant lexical value that it was proposed for removal/deletion.
I never did automate the refreshing of the rankings, from the updated lists. If I neglect it much longer (another year), the rank template may get obliterated, I fear. As expected, the rankings are gradually diverging from the "latest" runs where I re-rank them (including newer texts as they appear on Project Gutenberg.) I'm really unsure how to proceed. I haven't exactly boxed myself in by adding the 'rank' template to the top 1,000...but I do appreciate the complaints better now. That is, that the three more and less common terms, have no lexical relation, therefore should be downplayed, instead of glorified prominently.
I do think the differences between the P.G. and the TV scripts are quite fascinating.
--Connel MacKenzie 07:44, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

My Humble Opinion[edit]

These discussion pages are like superarticles filled with links and linebreaks! O_O

very complex[edit]

...it's just "a" or "an", and the letter, why so much (useless?) information?--Esteban.barahona 03:12, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Because it's really more than that in English. In English, a can function as an article, a preposition, or a verb. It's also a word in many, many other languages, so that information is also included. In Galician (galego), for example, a is an article, preposition, and a pronoun. --EncycloPetey 03:18, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Just busy[edit]

I had added the rfc tag saying the entry was hideous. I think we have made good progress. It just looks too busy now. Further improvement would require some innovation (like Visviva's gallery experiment), making better use of the thumb image at the top right, or moving material off the page, perhaps to an appendix.

Are all of the elements in Translingual strictly translingual? It is beginning to look like a translation table, not properly labeled as such. DCDuring TALK 19:46, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

"a (indefinite)"[edit]

"2.One certain or particular [entity]. We've received an interesting letter from a Mrs. Miggins of London"

It seems contradictory to have this definition ("certain or particular") under the heading of "indefinite".

Given the assumption that there may be more than one Mrs. Miggins in London and that we don't know which "Mrs. Miggins of London" wrote the letter, how is that any more "certain or particular" than saying that the letter is from "a woman", which is clearly not certain or particular.

This example works better in Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary: "['a' is] used as a function word before a proper noun to indicate limited knowledge about the referent: *a Mr. Smith called to inquire about the job*". 75.21.22.106 15:34, 6 December 2009 (UTC)

Modern/Slang Usages[edit]

I'm not a native speaker but it seems to me that "a" has also more modern usages, such as: 1. A way to say "Correct!" (that's an A!) 2. An euphemism for "ass" 3. Something I cannot perfectly identify, but only seems to have a emphatic function, like when Brad Pitt says in /Inglorious Basterds/: "Cousin, business is a-boomin!"

As I have no precise idea of how colloquial those usages are, I won't add them to the article, but maybe they should be considered (and I'd appreciate any further information). Irakos5 15:28, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

As a partial reply...
1 You'll find that sense under A, since the capitalized form has different meanings.
3 That's a-, under Etymology 3.
--EncycloPetey 00:01, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

RFV discussion[edit]

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The following discussion has been moved from Wiktionary:Requests for verification.

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Rfv-sense: In Quebec French, "her". I don't read a lot of Quebec French, but I know some Quebeckers and I've never heard of this. Surely she has would become "a a" which is just silly. Mglovesfun (talk) 15:42, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Keep. This sense was added by a native and trustworthy speaker of Quebec French, namely Circeus (talkcontribs), in this edit. Normally I'd say sure, ask for cites, but in this case it's basically impossible to search for, so . . . {{rfquote-sense}}?
By the way, just because "a" is a form of "elle" doesn't mean that it appears in all contexts (perhaps "pour a" is legal but "a a" is not); but even if it does, I don't see that "a a" is any sillier than "a à" ("has to").
RuakhTALK 16:23, 9 December 2010 (UTC)
Agreed, request speedy keep. Mglovesfun (talk) 17:38, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Kept as a withdrawn request. {{rfquote-sense}} added.​—msh210 (talk) 18:12, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Etymology 4: "Shoulda"[edit]

Etymology 4 says:

Unstressed variant of have or of.
Verb
a (third-person singular simple present -, present participle -, simple past and past participle -)
(archaic or slang) Have. (Now often attached to preceding auxiliary verb.)
I shoulda stayed at home last night.

I don't think this belongs here. "a" in "shoulda", "coulda", etc. is a reduced pronunciation of "have", a different word from "a"; and even if one accepts that "shoulda" etc. are now verbs, "-a" is a bound morpheme, not a word. I've never seen it written as "should a", with "a" being a separate word. Duoduoduo 16:56, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

RFV[edit]

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a

RFV-senses: "she", "they, them", "it", "I". Like several other senses in other entries, these claim to be senses of a modern English word, yet then restrict themselves via {{defdate}} to a period several centuries before modern English existed. Please either move the senses to ==Middle English== or, preferably, just fix the {{defdate}}s to indicate how long into the modern English period these senses continued and remove the RFV tags. (I hope that at some point our adders of obsolete words will figure out to stop adding words to English sections with defdate ranges that are exclusively pre-1500. It's confusing!) - -sche (discuss) 17:08, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

RFV-failed for now. - -sche (discuss) 10:29, 29 December 2012 (UTC)


Deletion discussion[edit]

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a

Rfd-sense: (algebra) The first know quantity, or an unknown quantity in an equation.

If kept, this should be moved to Translingual. However, I would prefer that it be deleted. In algebra, any letter can be used as a variable, and they don't have any special meanings beyond being a variable. The only ones that we need are x and y, I don't see how the others are any helpful. -- Liliana 12:18, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

Delete. (Why did my RFD on n-dimensional fail, I wonder?) Equinox 16:44, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
Because you posted it at WT:RFV instead of at WT:RFD. —RuakhTALK 17:08, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
...and because it is frequently found in running text. SpinningSpark 17:41, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
So is "green hat". That doesn't make it non-SoP. Equinox 14:59, 14 October 2012 (UTC)
@Equinox: feel free to RFD it now... I agree with you that it's SOP. - -sche (discuss) 19:53, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
  • Keep. Why are x and y ‘the only ones that we need’? This does have considerable representation in other dictionaries. Ƿidsiþ 04:40, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
    • x and y are the only letters with special meaning in algebra (being the first and second variables, respectively). The others are just letters that happen to be used as variables. Unicode has a thousand of them at Appendix:Unicode/Mathematical Alphanumeric Symbols - are you suggesting we should have an entry for all of them? -- Liliana 07:37, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
      Really? What are the "special" meanings of x and y that don't apply to other variables? --WikiTiki89 09:46, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
      x and y are always the first and second variables. You will not find an algebraic formula where x is the fifth variable, or y the third variable, or similar. -- Liliana 09:51, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
      Not true. This is a modern convention, and does not obtain in older mathematical books. Ƿidsiþ 10:36, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
      Challenge accepted! --WikiTiki89 10:32, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
      This search result contains some counterexamples. Don't know if that will satisfy you though. --WikiTiki89 11:04, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
      • FWIW, W:Variable (mathematics)#Naming conventions names also the third, w, as a usual unknown, and at W:Y I found no mention of y's special usage in mathematics. Anyway, unknown#Noun meaning in algebra mentions z as that of the third one. --biblbroksдискашн 09:53, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
        • x and y don't have "special meanings", it's just counter intuitive that they should be used as first and second despite their position in the alphabet. But from prime it's usually p and q, (then r, and so on) so x and y are not unique in this way. The fact that algebra doesn't use alphabetical order doesn't justify special definitions of x and y. That would be misrepresentative (possibly untruthful). Mglovesfun (talk) 11:08, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
          • Then go ahead and open up a new RFD if you so wish. -- Liliana 11:15, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
Keep. Mathematicians can and do use any letter to mean anything, from various alphabets. I've even seen Σ used as a variable. Talk about confusing! Still, that's not how everyone else uses variables, even those who know math well.
A clear mathematical description would always define or instantiate a variable, and at least name any extraordinary functions like ζ that are introduced. But a lot of times variables are not explained, even in hard sciences like physics and chemistry. If you see ρ you immediately think density, but not if you see d, which means distance. Generally v means velocity, ν means wavelength, and you would be laughed at, even scolded, for switching them.
Even mathematicians will have a preference toward using θ as an angle instead of a, for instance, although capital A as an angle is not uncommon. A lot of the time it also depends on the area of study. In statistics, μ is the mean, σ is the deviation, but both are defined as specific functions in number theory having nothing to do with collections of data.
Of course, if there are two distances, or two means, or two zeroes (!) then other symbols can be used, assuming subscripts are not employed, and explanation for these variables is provided. However, this is an exception.
In this light, lowercase a, b, and c are commonly used in mathematics to define relations between several quantities, not necessarily saying which is unknown. Identities are mainly the examples that come to mind, like the distributive law, square of a sum, and many others. The letters are commonly used for side lengths as in the Pythagorean theorem, which also defines a relation without a specific unknown.
It would be just as correct to say that o222, but who's going to label a triangle that way? Even "x squared plus y squared equals z squared" is 20 times less prevalent on Google, and the first few hits indicate a different use, such as the mathematical puzzle of Fermat's last theorem in contrast to a geometric problem, or a trick question for students who think the sides should always be labeled a, b, and c!
In the quadratic equation all three are known, and x instead is the unknown, having a stronger tendency for meaning an unknown. They are likewise constants in other factorizations and in conic sections, defining for instance the x and y intercepts. Of course c is also a constant in physics, and b could represent a quark, though I would guess the latter is fairly uncommon. This gets into the question of verifiability, which is a whole other can of worms. DAVilla 11:17, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
The only thing I fail to grasp is how that's an argument for keeping it. --WikiTiki89 11:23, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Wikitiki89, "Mathematicians can and do use any letter to mean anything, from various alphabets" which you DAVilla write above does seem to be rather a good reason to delete this! The fact that any of a wide range of symbols can be used for any conceivable purposes shows that these aren't definitions. Mglovesfun (talk) 11:29, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
Maybe we can have an appendix page documenting various standard uses of variables in physics? --WikiTiki89 11:33, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
Actually, I think this fails WT:CFI line one as it's not a word in a language. Though it is attested, I doubt it's idiomatic, as it's not lexical at all. Why would this be more includable than say, a picture of a kitten? Mglovesfun (talk) 17:14, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
Mathematical statements are often interwoven into text because they can be read as text. How the symbols are read depends on the context, e.g. = can be "equal", "equal to", or "equals"/"is equal to". Examples are easy to find: [3], [4], [5]. Here's a (not particularly good) guide for Chinese using English.
My argument above says that the variables can have meaning on their own, without introduction, especially in informal contexts. Consider this example where problem 1.35 starts "The barometer shown in Fig. P1.35 contains mercury (ρ=13.59 g/cm3)." The word "density" does not appear in the problem or anywhere on the page. A mathematician would balk at this use in such a formal context. Although ρ is introduced when the concepts are explained earlier in the chapter, it is essentially defined there as synonymous with density. DAVilla 04:59, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
Yeah but that's clearly under the context of physics and in physics itself variables can have many definitions. Like I said before, it might be a good idea to have an appendix page (such as Appendix:Variables in physics) listing standard uses of variables in physics, but I don't think they belong in the main namespace. --WikiTiki89 09:16, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
  • Delete "a" has several meanings in science/maths which it might be worth including in a Translingual section (acceleration and activity are the best known). However, the meaning presented here is useless. Anything can be a variable. "a" on its own in a mathematical equation has no meaning at all. It's just a token which allows the mathematician to keep track of the relationships between variables while manipulating equations. You can use any letter, any symbol, whole words, drawings or even totally invented squiggles for this purpose. Here's one example. x is a little different, in that people actually use it outside equations to mean a missing quantity (see sure as eggs is eggs). I've never heard of anyone using "a" in that metaphorical sense. Smurrayinchester (talk) 13:12, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

Sense deleted. bd2412 T 13:09, 12 August 2013 (UTC)

Deletion discussion 2[edit]

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a 2

Rfd-sense, there are two issues here:

  • A spoken sound represented by the letter a or A, as in map, mall, or male.

I can honestly find no usage example for this sense. It would have to be a sentence that actually uses a to refer to a sound and not just to the letter a (as in "You spell it like the a in father"). So I believe this is a misguided sense and adequately covered by the letter sense.

Then we have these three:

  • A written representation of the letter A or a.
  • A printer's type or stamp used to reproduce the letter a.
  • An item having the shape of the letter a or A.

They are really no different from each other, and should be merged into one sense, or just canned altogether and have them be represented by the letter sense. Think of what senses this would allow for fish: An artistic representation of a fish, A printer's type or stamp used to reproduce a fish (think Christianity), An item having the shape of a fish, etc. -- Liliana 14:26, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

Couldn't we find instances of "the sound as an a"? That should eliminate many spurious hits. (Yes we can: bgc. DCDuring TALK 17:06, 17 October 2012 (UTC))
But does a in this instance really refer to "a spoken sound"? If we apply the insertion test (i. e. insert the definition in place of the word) we get something like "the sound of a spoken sound represented by the letter a". Does that make sense to you? -- Liliana 17:21, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
That's easy to read as "the sound (heard) of a spoken sound (produced) etc". Many distinct definitions seem to be be just the results of teasing apart aspects of a phenomenon. DCDuring TALK 20:20, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
Of the group of three, it would take a little bit of effort to get all three into a single sense as "representation" implies intent, the second is for a device for producing the letter, and the third is for something that might have the shape by accident. "An item, mark, shape, or image representing or resembling a form of the letter A" includes both 1 and 3 certainly and the letter on Hester Prynne's forehead. Perhaps we would want to include within the third sense a key marked "A" on a keyboard or touchscreen or the part of a typewriter ball or arm used to produce the letter.
As "a"-ness is abstract, it might be useful to have at least one definition that explicitly defines a as concrete embodiments of the abstract notion.
It would be a service to provide the senses of the letter that are supposed to cover this. I couldn't get [[a]] to download just now. DCDuring TALK 16:27, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
If your computer system is even slightly slow, [[a]] takes forever to download or will crash your browser. Definitely do NOT try to download the history page. I purchased a brand new $2000 system just to download that page :(
Delete per nom. - -sche (discuss) 03:21, 20 September 2013 (UTC)

Senses deleted. bd2412 T 18:20, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

Deletion discussion 3[edit]

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a 3

Rfd-sense: Designating a second residence with the same street number.

I think this sense is misguided. a does not "designate a second residence with the same street number", as in, it doesn't distinguish two buildings which both have the house number 12. Rather, it is itself part of the house number. Letters do appear in house numbers, but they don't carry any inherent meaning and thus aren't dictionary material. -- Liliana 19:35, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

  • Delete per nom. Fairly clear cut. This is no different than having senses for numbers indicating that they are themselves street addresses. bd2412 T 19:38, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Delete per bd. - -sche (discuss) 04:35, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Well, it is used in deriving a new number from an old one, e.g. a new house is built between 10 and 11 and may be numbered 10a. The French equivalent is bis, written as a separate word beside the original number. Equinox 05:26, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
And if there's more than one, wouldn't the second one be 10b? I've also seen fractions: 10 1/2 and 10 3/4. Chuck Entz (talk) 05:55, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
I vote keep, if not obvious from the above. But then I added it :) Equinox 16:32, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
Keep. It is not clear for me that a new address between 10 and 11 is named 10a rather than 10b. — TAKASUGI Shinji (talk) 02:48, 3 September 2013 (UTC)
So you would support a sense of 2 as "designating a second residence on the same street", because it's not obvious that a new address between 1 and 3 is called 2? Appending a isn't even a hard and fast rule, there are exceptions. -- Liliana 09:17, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
It’s obvious that a new address between 1 and 3 is called 2. — TAKASUGI Shinji (talk) 01:33, 27 December 2013 (UTC)
Delete. This is just a numbering convention, like "Exit 3A" on a highway or "Vitamin B6" (which is the opposite). --WikiTiki89 20:37, 27 December 2013 (UTC)
Delete. I'm sure you can also find addresses where b is used instead of a on the principle that the original number is implicitly a. It has about as much lexical significance as the fact that a is used in outlines, along with b, c, d, etc. The fact that letters are used to supplement numbers in numbering schemes is a useful thing to know, as is that fact that such numbers tend to follow numeric and alphabetic order (there's no explicit requirement that houses not be arranged in the order 3,9,2,7, etc.), but it's not for a dictionary to explain it: I have trouble imagining anyone looking up a in the dictionary because they saw an address with "3 a" in it. Chuck Entz (talk) 22:33, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

Deleted. — TAKASUGI Shinji (talk) 13:02, 13 February 2014 (UTC)

RFD discussion: March–June 2014[edit]

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A

Stock symbol for Agilent Technologies. We have two entries in the category Translingual stock symbols of which this is one, but there are probably scores or hundreds of thousands of these in the real world, some of them with multiple meanings over time. We generally don't seem to like things associated with making money unless they are in some way colorful or funky.

I don't really see the justification for deleting these, but it fits our practice to do so. In contrast, we have appendices with ICAO three-letter codes for airports with numerous blue links. "I was reading the stock-ticker board/my trading screen and want to know what TIGR and SPDR meant" seems on all fours with "I saw someone's baggage with it's baggage tickets and I wanted to know what MSY, IAH, and LHR meant"?. DCDuring TALK 12:44, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

Delete, the faster the better. --Hekaheka (talk) 06:19, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
Comment: SPDR's are a kind of investment fund that tracks an index. Although trademarked, it is standard jargon. Choor monster (talk) 14:43, 2 June 2014 (UTC)

Sense deleted. bd2412 T 18:06, 13 June 2014 (UTC)

Tea Room discussion of Nauruan[edit]

For some Tea Room discussion which touched on this entry, see Wiktionary:Tea room/2014/June#Nauruan_definition. - -sche (discuss) 15:27, 15 June 2014 (UTC)