A

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The Latin alphabet
Aa Bb Cc Dd
Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj
Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp
Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv
Ww Xx Yy Zz
Writing "A" in cursive

A or a is the first letter of the English alphabet. The small letter, a or α, is used as a lower case vowel.[1]

When it is spoken, ā is said as a long a, a diphthong of ĕ and y. A is similar to alpha of the Greek alphabet. That is not surprising, because it stands for the same sound.

"Alpha and omega" (the last letter of the Greek alphabet) means from beginning to the end. In musical notation, the letter A is the symbol of a note in the scale, below B and above G. In binary numbers, the letter A is 01000001.

A is the letter that was used to represent a team in an old TV show, The A-Team. A capital a is written "A". Use a capital a at the start of a sentence if writing.

Where it came from[change | change source]

The letter 'A' was in the Phoenician alphabet's aleph.[2] This symbol came from a simple picture of an ox head.

Egyptian Phoenician
aleph
Greek
Alpha
Etruscan
A
Roman/Cyrillic
A
Egyptian hieroglyphic ox head Phoenician aleph Greek alpha Etruscan A Roman A

This Phoenician letter helped make the basic blocks of later types of the letter. The Greeks later modified this letter and used it as their letter alpha. The Greek alphabet was used by the Etruscans in northern Italy, and the Romans later modified the Etruscan alphabet for their own language.

Using the letter[change | change source]

The letter A has six different sounds. It can sound like æ, in the International Phonetic Alphabet, such as the word pad. Other sounds of this letter are in the words father, which developed into another sound, such as in the word ace.

Use in mathematics[change | change source]

In algebra, the letter "A" along with other letters at the beginning of the alphabet is used to represent known quantities.

In geometry, capital A, B, C etc. are used to label line segments, lines, etc. Also, A is typically used as one of the letters to label an angle in a triangle.

References[change | change source]

  1. Simpson J.A. & Weiner E.S.C. eds 1989. "A". The Oxford English Dictionary. I: A–Bazouki (2nd ed). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-861213-1
  2. "A", "Encyclopaedia Britannica", Volume 1, 1962. p.1.