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This article is about the letter of the alphabet. For the English indefinite article, see English articles. For other uses, see A (disambiguation).
For technical reasons, "A#" redirects here. For A-sharp, see A♯ (musical note).
Writing cursive forms of A

A (named /ˈ/, plural As, A's, as, a's or aes[nb 1]) is the first letter and the first vowel in the ISO basic Latin alphabet.[1] It is similar to the Ancient Greek letter alpha, from which it derives.[2] The upper-case version consists of the two slanting sides of a triangle, crossed in the middle by a horizontal bar. The lower-case version can be written in two forms: the double-storey a and single-storey ɑ. The latter is commonly used in handwriting and fonts based on it, especially fonts intended to be read by children. It is also found in italic type.


Egyptian   Cretan Phoenician
800–700 BC
Latin 300 AD
Egyptian hieroglyphic ox head Early Crete version of the letter "A" Phoenician aleph Semitic letter "A", version 1 Greek alpha, version 1 Etruscan A, version 1 Roman A Boeotian Greek Classical uncial, version 1 Latin 300 AD uncial, version 1
Crete "A" Phoenician version of the "A" Semitic "A", version 2 Greek alpha, version 2 Etruscan A, version 2 Latin 4th century BC Boeotioan 800 BC Greek Classical uncial, version 2 Latin 300 AD uncial, version 2

The earliest certain ancestor of "A" is aleph (also written 'aleph), the first letter of the Phoenician alphabet[3] (which consisted entirely of consonants, thereby being an abjad rather than a true alphabet). In turn, the origin of aleph may have been a pictogram of an ox head in proto-Sinaitic script[4] influenced by Egyptian hieroglyphs, styled as a triangular head with two horns extended.

In 1600 B.C.E., the Phoenician alphabet's letter had a linear form that served as the base for some later forms. Its name must have corresponded closely to the Hebrew or Arabic aleph.

Blackletter A
Blackletter A
Uncial A
Uncial A
Another Capital A
Another Blackletter A 
Modern Roman A
Modern Roman A
Modern Italic A
Modern Italic A
Modern Script A
Modern script A

When the ancient Greeks adopted the alphabet, they had no use for the glottal stop—the first phoneme of the Phoenician pronunciation of the letter, and the sound that the letter denoted in Phoenician and other Semitic languages—so they used an adaptation of the sign to represent the vowel /a/, and gave it the similar name of alpha. In the earliest Greek inscriptions after the Greek Dark Ages, dating to the 8th century BC, the letter rests upon its side, but in the Greek alphabet of later times it generally resembles the modern capital letter, although many local varieties can be distinguished by the shortening of one leg, or by the angle at which the cross line is set.

The Etruscans brought the Greek alphabet to their civilization in the Italian Peninsula and left the letter unchanged. The Romans later adopted the Etruscan alphabet to write the Latin language, and the resulting letter was preserved in the Latin alphabet used to write many languages, including English.

Typographic variants[edit]

Typographic variants include a double-storey a and single-storey ɑ.

During Roman times, there were many variations on the letter "A". First was the monumental or lapidary style, which was used when inscribing on stone or other "permanent" mediums. For perishable surfaces, which were used for everyday or utilitarian purposes, a cursive style was used. Due to the "perishable" nature of the surfaces, examples of this style are not as common as those of the monumental. This perishable style was called cursive and numerous variations have survived, such as majuscule cursive, minuscule cursive, and semicursive minuscule. There were also variants intermediate between the monumental and the cursive. The known variants include the early semi-uncial, the uncial, and the later semi-uncial.[5]

At the end of the Roman Empire (5th century AD), several variants of the cursive minuscule developed through Western Europe. Among these were the semicursive minuscule of Italy, the Merovingian script in France, the Visigothic script in Spain, and the Insular or Anglo-Irish semi-uncial or Anglo-Saxon majuscule, of Great Britain. By the 9th century, the Caroline script, which was very similar to the present-day form, was the principal form used in book-making, before the advent of the printing press. This form was derived through a combining of prior forms.[5]

15th-century Italy saw the formation of the two main variants that are known today. These variants, the Italic and Roman forms, were derived from the Caroline Script version. The Italic form used in most current handwriting consists of a circle and vertical stroke ("ɑ"), called Latin alpha or "script a". This slowly developed from the fifth-century form resembling the Greek letter tau in the hands of medieval Irish and English writers.[3] Most printed material uses the Roman form consisting of a small loop with an arc over it ("a").[5] Both derive from the majuscule (capital) form. In Greek handwriting, it was common to join the left leg and horizontal stroke into a single loop, as demonstrated by the uncial version shown. Many fonts then made the right leg vertical. In some of these, the serif that began the right leg stroke developed into an arc, resulting in the printed form, while in others it was dropped, resulting in the modern handwritten form.

Use in writing systems[edit]


In modern English orthography, the letter a represents seven different vowel sounds:

The double aa sequence does not occur in native English words, but is found in some words derived from foreign languages such as Aaron and aardvark.[6] However, a occurs in many common digraphs, all with their own sound or sounds, particularly ai, au, aw, ay, ea and oa.

a is the third-most-commonly used letter in English (after e and t),[7] and the second most common in Spanish and French. In one study, on average, about 3.68% of letters used in English texts tend to be a, while the number is 6.22% in Spanish and 3.95% in French.[8]

Other languages[edit]

In most languages that use the Latin alphabet, a denotes an open unrounded vowel, such as /a/, /ä/, or /ɑ/. An exception is Saanich, in which a (and the glyph Á) stands for a close-mid front unrounded vowel /e/.

Other systems[edit]

In phonetic and phonemic notation:

Other uses[edit]

Main article: A (disambiguation)

In algebra, the letter "A" along with other letters at the beginning of the alphabet is used to represent known quantities, whereas the letters at the end of the alphabet (x,y,z) are used to denote unknown quantities.

In geometry, capital A, B, C etc. are used to denote segments, lines, rays, etc.[5] A capital A is also typically used as one of the letters to represent an angle in a triangle, the lowercase a representing the side opposite angle A.[4]

In logic, A is used to signify the universal affirmative.

In physics, A is the SI unit symbol for Ampere.

"A" is often used to denote something or someone of a better or more prestigious quality or status: A-, A or A+, the best grade that can be assigned by teachers for students' schoolwork; "A grade" for clean restaurants; A-list celebrities, etc. Such associations can have a motivating effect, as exposure to the letter A has been found to improve performance, when compared with other letters.[9]

Finally, the letter A is used to denote size,[where?] as in a narrow size shoe,[4] or a small cup size in a brassiere.[citation needed]

Related characters[edit]

Different glyphs of the lowercase letter A.

Ancestors, descendants and siblings[edit]

Ligatures and abbreviations[edit]

Computing codes[edit]

Character A a
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 65 U+0041 97 U+0061
UTF-8 65 41 97 61
Numeric character reference A A a a
EBCDIC family 193 C1 129 81
ASCII 1 65 41 97 61
1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.

Other representations[edit]


  1. ^ Aes is the plural of the name of the letter. The plural of the letter itself is rendered As, A's, as, or a's.[1]



  • Anon (2004). "English Letter Frequency". Math Explorer's Club. Cornell University. Archived from the original on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  • Anon (2006). "Percentages of Letter frequencies per Thousand words". Trinity College. Archived from the original on January 25, 2007. Retrieved 11 May 2015. 
  • British Psychological Society (9 March 2010). "Letters Affect Exam Results". Science Alert. Archived from the original on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  • Diringer, David (2000). "A". In Bayer, Patricia. Encyclopedia Americana. I: A-Anjou (First ed.). Danbury, CT: Grolier Incorporated. ISBN 0-7172-0133-3. 
  • Gelb, I. J.; Whiting, R. M. (1998). "A". In Ranson, K. Anne. Academic American Encyclopedia. I: A–Ang (First ed.). Danbury, CT: Grolier Incorporated. ISBN 0-7172-2068-0. 
  • Hall-Quest, Olga Wilbourne (1997). "A". In Johnston, Bernard. Collier's Encyclopedia. I: A to Ameland (First ed.). New York, NY: P.F. Collier. 
  • Hoiberg, Dale H., ed. (2010). "A". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1: A-ak–Bayes. Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8. 
  • Kyle, McCarter P. (September 1974). "The Early Diffusion of the Alphabet". The Biblical Archaeologist 37 (3): 54–56. 
  • Simpson, J. A.; Weiner, E.S.C., eds. (1989). "A". The Oxford English Dictionary. I: A–Bazouki (2nd ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-861213-3. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A&W_Cream_Soda — Please support Wikipedia.
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19 news items

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US 99.5
Thu, 22 Oct 2015 08:11:15 -0700

SAN FRANCISCO - JULY 24: A man opens a bottle of Diet Coke as he eats before the start of the baseball game with the San Francisco Giants and the Atlanta Braves at AT&T Park July 24, 2007 in San Francisco, California. A study published in the Journal ...


Wed, 14 Oct 2015 17:31:34 -0700

The Environmental Working Group lists popular picks like Mountain Dew Code Red, A&W Root Beer, A&W Cream Soda, 7 Up (Original and Cherry) and Sunkist Orange Soda among its top offenders, with many containing over 10 teaspoons of added sugar ...

Doctor Who Watch

Doctor Who Watch
Sun, 04 Oct 2015 14:44:21 -0700

(He also says on his website that he loves the Decemberists and A&W Cream Soda, which is more than enough for me to call him “awesome.”) And of course, we can't forget that this is actually not Patrick's first contribution to the world of Doctor Who ...

Kenosha News

Kenosha News
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 10:32:47 -0700

Jelly Belly has 50 official flavors ranging from A&W Cream Soda to Juicy Pear and Wild Blackberry. — President Ronald Reagan's favorite flavor was blueberry, which was created for his presidential inauguration in 1981. More than three tons of Jelly ...
Albuquerque Journal
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 23:07:45 -0800

And the amount of caffeine in some of our beverages may surprise us – for example A&W Cream Soda (currently in my house!) contains 29 mg caffeine per can (dpsgproductfacts.com) and Sunkist Orange soda (a mistake in my house long ago) contains 41 ...
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 08:00:29 -0800

eggcreamthing14.jpg Egg creams—described as frothy and bubbly and sugary and milky all at once—don't exactly sound delicious, but somehow they are. The classic New York City staple—invented in Brooklyn or on the Lower East Side, depending on who ...


Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:07:30 -0700

Ever wonder how many Diet Cokes it would take to kill you? Or how many Rockstar energy drinks? Or McDonald's coffees? There's more or less an app for that. Simply visit the website www.caffeineinformer.com and select “Death by Caffeine” from the top ...

The Canberra Times

The Canberra Times
Sat, 18 May 2013 06:07:30 -0700

STRICT caffeine restrictions have stopped the importation of a soft drink made by the manufacturer of Dr Pepper, despite the creaming soda-flavoured beverage being freely available in the US. In March, more than 600 cans of A&W Cream Soda with aged ...

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