1Used when referring to someone or something for the first time in a text or conversation.Compare with the‘a man came out of the room’
- ‘it has been an honour to meet you’
- ‘we need people with a knowledge of languages’
- ‘Bob's conducting a three-year internet romance with a girl he's never met.’
- ‘He has also written an opera and translated Dante's Inferno in order to produce an illustrated book of it.’
- ‘Children need a place for their computer equipment, and parents need closet space for their clothing.’
- ‘Before making a decision, do an assessment of how you want to use your phone.’
- ‘"That campaign definitely had an effect," she says.’
- ‘My wife got me an unexpected Christmas gift this year.’
- ‘An internal report written by a manager at the nuclear waste reprocessing plant was leaked this week.’
- ‘We had to write a story about a natural disaster for creative writing.’
- ‘I received an email from Jo today.’
- ‘Jack crouched down and hid behind a tree trunk.’
- 1.1Used with units of measurement to mean one such unit.‘a hundred’
- ‘a quarter of an hour’
- ‘I sent off an e-mail, just an hour ago, and he's already got me back online.’
- ‘About a mile further down the road, another dog ran out in front of the taxi.’
- ‘I stopped to pick up a gallon of milk on my way home from work.’
- ‘The attack came amid a major upsurge in violence across the country that has left a thousand dead.’
- ‘There is barely an ounce of fat on his body, and he continues to make his team-mates look chubby.’
- ‘I look at these miserable people, and wouldn't trade my life with theirs for a million dollars.’
- 1.2with negative One single; any.‘I simply haven't a thing to wear’
- ‘Incensed at the fiasco, I went back to the website to try and find a telephone number to call - not a thing!’
- ‘I think there's not a person born that doesn't have a gift to offer in some way.’
- ‘I had to own up to the fact that I'd never read a word by Crofts.’
- ‘The film looks fantastic: there is not a spot, or a scratch, or a visual defect to be seen.’
- ‘Most refugees say they never saw a drop of food aid - despite almost one million tonnes flooding into the country every year.’
- 1.3Used when mentioning the name of someone not known to the speaker.‘a Mr Smith telephoned’
- ‘She was born in about 1670, the daughter of a Mr Freeman of Holbeach in Lincolnshire.’
- ‘He was sent two poems from a Miss Ethel Malley, who wrote saying they were found among her brother's possessions after his death.’
- ‘Does anyone know a Mr Daeller?’
- ‘On September 29 a letter arrived at our address for a Ms L Doherty.’
- ‘The latest letter was from a Mrs Singh, who complained about two radio stations.’
- 1.4Someone like (the name specified)‘you're no better than a Hitler’
- ‘Called a Judas by his countrymen, he received an elbow from another player, and left the pitch injured.’
- ‘What he lacks is the charisma of an Olivier, whose epochal Coriolanus is dazzlingly evoked in two pages of Kenneth Tynan's Curtains.’
- ‘You need the methods of a Roosevelt.’
- ‘Regarding academic medicine, it has become increasingly difficult for a Freud or a Mendel to gain recognition without university affiliation or corporate sponsorship.’
- ‘Moore says that the organization has passed its Chamberlain period, and is now in need of a Churchill.’
2Used to indicate membership of a class of people or things.‘he is a lawyer’
- ‘this car is a BMW’
- ‘She's a banker, married to a stockbroker, and they have a daughter about the same age as Amy.’
- ‘My mom's a pharmacist and my dad's a realtor.’
- ‘Lilly is a Siamese cat who survived a two-week cross-country move while stuck in a drawer.’
- ‘Notice that every car seen in the show is a Chevrolet, out of consideration for their sponsor.’
- ‘In 1984 he was granted his fervent wish to acquire a Picasso.’
3In, to, or for each; per (used when expressing rates or ratios)‘typing 60 words a minute’
- ‘a move to raise petrol prices by 3p a litre’
- ‘The truckers are angry at the rise in diesel prices, which currently average 81.3p a litre.’
- ‘The price of gold rose last week to $309 an ounce - and at one point was $312, its highest for two years.’
- ‘You can't drive over five miles an hour down any street in New York.’
- ‘The site takes in 2,000 tons of trash on a typical day, charging an average $30 a ton.’
- ‘I type 15 words a minute with a lot of mistakes.’
On the question of using a or an before words beginning with h, see
Middle English weak form of Old English ān ‘one’.
1(in travel timetables) arrives.
- ‘Penzance a 0915’
2in combination (in units of measurement) atto- (10⁻¹⁸).
3British (with reference to sporting fixtures) away.
- ‘March 15 Sheffield United (a)’
4(used before a date) before.
1The first letter of the alphabet.
- 1.1Denoting the first in a set of items, categories, sizes, etc.
- 1.2Denoting the first of two or more hypothetical people or things.
- ‘suppose A had killed B’
- 1.3The highest class of academic mark.
- ‘a dazzling array of straight A's’
- 1.4(in the UK) denoting the most important category of road, other than a motorway.‘the A34’
- ‘busy A-roads’
- 1.5Denoting the highest-earning socio-economic category for marketing purposes, including top management and senior professional personnel.
- 1.6Chess Denoting the first file from the left, as viewed from White's side of the board.
- 1.7The first constant to appear in an algebraic expression.
- 1.8Geology Denoting the uppermost soil horizon, especially the topsoil.
- 1.9The human blood type (in the ABO system) containing the A antigen and lacking the B.
- 1.10(with numeral) denoting a series of international standard paper sizes each twice the area of the next, as A0, A1, A2, A3, A4, etc., A4 being 210 × 297 mm.
2A shape like that of a capital A.
- ‘an A-shape’
The sixth note of the diatonic scale of C major. The A above middle C is usually used as the basis for tuning and in modern music has a standard frequency of 440 Hz.
- 3.1A key based on a scale with A as its keynote.
- from A to Z
Over the entire range; completely.‘make sure you understand the subject from A to Z’
- ‘The person has to fit from A to Z or else they're just not wanted.’
- ‘Most of my work has been in the comedy genre, so it's a dream role to get a chance to play a character that has a trajectory from A to Z.’
- ‘They moved in with a heavy barrage of speculation from A to Z.’
- ‘Instead, the opposition wants an independent committee to oversee the election from A to Z.’
- ‘The process moves from A to Z without cutting corners.’
- ‘Going through your list of accounts from A to Z won't really work.’
- ‘It wouldn't be something I'd have to take from A to Z, point-by-point, and argue and describe.’
- ‘If you complete all the steps from A to Z, the mission is a success.’
- ‘If everything is explained to us, from A to Z, then even an idiot can grasp it.’
- ‘They could argue about who was smarter, who the teachers liked best, anything from A to Z they could argue about.’
One's original plan or strategy.Compare with plan B‘plan A having gone horribly wrong, Ferguson used the interval to change his formation’
- ‘You've got to still have a Plan B if Plan A doesn't work.’
- ‘I think the only reason you're back now is because Plan A disintegrated and I'm your contingency.’
- ‘Business as usual - Plan A - is clearly not working.’
- ‘We can't even resort to Plan B these days because we haven't got a Plan A!’
- ‘Plan A is actually just to turn up on the day and make it up.’
- ‘If their coaches are talking differently October 1, you'll know Plan A didn't quite work.’
- ‘We had Plan A and Plan B and Plan C.’
- ‘Plan A, business as usual, is no longer a viable option.’
- ‘Why not just carry on with Plan A as if nothing has happened?’
- ‘Have a plan B in case plan A fails.’
- ‘This is plan A; this is what I plan to do.’
- ‘I don't know what plan A was, but it evidently failed.’
- ‘That's plan A, but I've a number of other plans.’
- ‘You either continue with plan A, or you look at alternatives.’
- ‘Fortunately, I have appealing contingency plans, but still first I'll apply myself to plan A with all my strength.’
- ‘However, since football is now a 16-man game, he can bring on talented substitutes if plan A is not working.’
- ‘Plan A, to propose on Detonator, backfired when she saw the ride on the website and refused to go on it.’
- ‘We had a review in the first week of the work to see if plan A was still the best way forward.’
- ‘Plan A had been for me to travel with Connie on the train, but there were no seats available.’
From one's starting point to one's destination.‘most road atlases will get you from A to B’
- ‘The drivers are not concentrating and just going from A to B to distribute the goods.’
- ‘She said: ‘People will still be able to get from A to B - it may just take them that bit longer.’’
- ‘We need to put all the other things to one side and get from A to B safely at the appropriate speed.’
- ‘I wanted to show people how to get from A to B in your life.’
- ‘You could go from A to B directly, walking fast, neglecting the scenery, or instead you could choose to take your time.’
- ‘As well as finding you the best way from A to B, the operators can also provide an emergency and breakdown service.’
- ‘How else would you get someone from A to B unless you've used an airplane?’
- ‘Ask the ‘British Bobby’ for the nearest toilet or how to get from A to B, it is all part of his job.’
- ‘It must also be rather boring and predictable sailing directly and single-mindedly from A to B to C.’
- ‘People who need to travel from A to B will take an alternative route.’
1(in card games) ace.
- ‘you cash ♥AK’
2Against (heading the column in a table of sports results which shows the goals or points scored against each club).
3informal A level.
6Attack (in designations of US aircraft types)
- ‘an A-10’
- ‘Q: What is a hung parliament? A: One in which no single party has an overall majority’
8(in names of sports clubs) Athletic.
- ‘Dunfermline A’
9Austria (international vehicle registration).