An Honor Or A Honor: Some Tricky Grammar Rules

Each culture in the world holds a different notion of honor. For many centuries, countless sociologists and anthropologists have been dedicating their entire life researching what honor means, how to obtain it, and how to preserve. In this post, though, we are studying the article before it. Here’s the deal: Which one should you choose, an honor or a honor

If you ever found yourself confused between these two, keep reading! In this post, you will have an overview of the grammar, meaning, and proper usage of honor. Trust me, it will save you from much embarrassment when writing essays or emails, like knowing how to use “Thank you“! 

The History Of Honor

To answer the question, we need to know the history of this term. Tracing back to the origin of a particular word is always an exciting process. 

an honor or a honor - Some Tricky Grammar Rules
The history of honor – Source:

Some etymologists on Reddit and Quora suggested that the word “honor” was borrowed from Old French “onor”. Several sources such as Etymonline, Britannica, Merriam-Webster, and all confirm this theory. 

However, if we dig a bit deeper, we shall see that both the French and English words were originated from the Latin word “honor”. Hence, the one we use today is an etymological word itself.

Interestingly, though remaining almost the same, the meaning of honor has gone through changes and expansion over time. When it was first used in ancient Rome, “honor” stands for (1) public offices and (2) concrete marks of esteem like rewards or ceremonies. According to the Etymology Dictionary, the word was admitted from French into English around the 1200s as “glory, renown, fame earned”. During the 1300s, it was broadened to “the gesture of paying respect to someone”. 

Nowadays, the noun “honor” stands for a quality that combines dignity and being proud. When you say something is “honors”, it expresses a high level of respect toward the person who presented it to you and recognized their levels of prestige. Since the word indicates respect, it is often used in formal contexts. Hence, it might turn out to be a disaster if you choose the wrong way to word it! 

The Dilemma Of “A” And “An”

an honor or a honor - Several sources such as Etymonline, Britannica, Merriam-Webster, and all confirm this theory.
A or an? – Source:

Grammar is formed by rules, and when to use “a” or “an” is no exception. When it comes to articles, if the word starts with a vowel sound (a; e; i; o; u), you would use an. Otherwise, if it begins with a consonant sound, use a

And here comes the problem: The choice of articles is based upon the phonetic quality of the first letter in the word, not the orthographic quality. Many words in English begin with a consonant sound but are voiced with a vowel sound and vice versa. The “honor” we are talking about is one of them. 

So, Is It “An Honor” Or “A Honor”?

As mentioned above, “honor” was borrowed from Normand French in the 1200s. In most cases, English words that share French origin, starting with an H, will be spoken French-style. Therefore, we pronounce “honor” while omitting the “h”. 

Which one to choose then? With all of that information, we can now conclude that “an honor” is grammatically correct. The “h” in the word is silent, and when you pronounce it, the following “o,” which is a vowel sound, is predominant. 

It doesn’t matter which one you choose, an honor or a honor. The meaning of your phrase will remain the same. Still, in a formal context such as business emails or school essays, being attentive in wording is also a way to show your dedication and respect.

Examples Of Using Honor In A Sentence

an honor or a honor - Examples Of Using Honor In A Sentence.
When to use honor? – Source:

In a sentence, you can use honor as both a noun and a verb. When being a noun, the word can convey:

  • Great respect to somebody. 

“They stood in silence as a mark of honor to her”.

  • Something that you are very pleased or proud to do because you can gain great respect from it. 

“A contest for an honor or an award is called a competition.”

  • The quality of knowing and doing what is mortally right. 

“He has always been a man of honor”.

  • A good reputation. 

“The family honor is at stake”.

As a verb, honor might indicate:

  • Regard with great respect. 

“I am eternally grateful for my knack of finding in great books, some of them very funny books, reason enough to feel honored to be alive, no matter what else might be going on.” 

  • Fulfill (an obligation) or keep (an agreement). 

“When the rich believe the poor will not honor property rights”. 

Our Final Verdict 

In case you are still wondering between ‘an honors or a honors, an honor or a honor‘, the correct answer is “an honor”. 

Whether it is toward an acknowledgment, an opportunity, or someone of higher prestige, the term “honor” is one of the most common ways to express your respect, appreciation, and sense of humbleness. Perhaps that’s why it is present in our everyday life, from academic and business circumstances to casual conversations. 

With the information we provided, you can master the usage of this word without being confused ever again! 

If that’s not enough, explore our College Life corner and Home right now. There are still many intriguing words, phrases, and internet slang waiting for you to discover! 

Iris Vida

Well, Iris Vida is very into reading books from different eras, cultures, and anything that has been going viral lately, etc. Her passions can't be put in a few words only. Whether it's the "Jazz Age," a Neil Gaiman notable novel, the pitter-patter melodies of Taylor Swift's music, or anything else, she always sends the best materials to her top-notch writings, engaging all readers everywhere. Moreover, like Nick Carraway, who captured global attention with his rich and glamorous look, she leaves readers with a satisfying sense of wonder and an urge to learn more with her compelling writing style.