Is It an Herbal or a Herbal?

When speaking American English, we usually say an herbal because the initial letter of this word, the “h”, is silent. The British, however, commonly use the article "a" since the “h” is sounded in British English.

American English speakers usually say an herbal because the initial letter, the “h”, is silent. The British, however, commonly use the article "a" since the “h” is sounded in British English. Be aware that we use "a" or "an" based on the sound made by the initial letter of the following word, and not on how it is spelled.

You can take an herbal tea to relax. (American English)

You can take a herbal tea to relax. (British English)

Relative frequency of the phrases an herbal and a herbal in American English
"An herbal" vs. "a herbal" in books through time (American English)
Source: Google Books Ngram Viewer
Relative frequency of the phrases an herbal and a herbal in British English
"An herbal" vs. "a herbal" in books through time (British English)
Source: Google Books Ngram Viewer

Follow the same convention with the noun herb.

I brought an herb that you can buy in your grocery store. (American English)

I brought a herb that you can buy in your grocery store. (British English)

Other derivatives, like herbicide, herbaceous, herbivore, or herbivorous are more frequently pronounced with a sounded “h”. In American English, however, both options are acceptable.

Common chicory is a/an herbaceous perennial plant.

A partial list of words that also begin with a silent “h”, and therefore take the article “an”:

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