Susanna has some humorous but potentiantially explosive posts today. She links to a USA Today ad entitled, “What Would Jesus (Rivera) Drive?” as well as a racially-charged cartoon in the Hartford Courant:

. She provides interesting commentary on both.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Romulus says:

    Hey James,

    Shouldn’t the appropriate word to use before another word beginning with a vowel be ‘an’ instead of ‘a’? I’m referring to this:

    “You may post without including your e-mail address and/or a URL if you desire. If you include a URL, it will be linked to your name–your e-mail address won’t show on the page”.

    Based on the grammar lesson you gave me regarding the use of ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ you probably have it right. But………it sure sounds funny to say ‘a url’ to my ungramatically correct ear. Have a nice day. 🙂

  2. James Joyner says:


    No. It’s confusing when you read it but not when you speak it. The rule is:

    “A” Versus “An”
    This last topic is undoubtedly the easiest, because most non-native speakers already know about the difference between a and an. They are simply two variations of the indefinite article. A is used before words that begin with consonant sounds (a rock, a large park) and an is used before vowel sounds (an interesting subject, an apple).

    However, note that the choice of a or an depends on pronunciation, not spelling. Many words that begin with the vowel -u- are preceded by a instead of an because the -u- spelling is often pronounce -yu-, as in useful (“a useful idea”), and uranium (“a uranium isotope”). In addition, in a few words borrowed from French, the initial consonant -h- is not pronounced: an heir to the throne, an hour-long lecture, an honorable agreement, etc.

    Source: RPI Writing Center

  3. Romulus says:

    Thanks once again for the grammar lesson.
    I figured you were right but thought that ‘a url’
    sounded strange and didn’t seem to go well together.

  4. Ray says:

    It IS “an URL” if you are saying it as if URL is “earl.” It is “a U.R.L.” if you are pronouncing the individual letters of the acronymn.