Learn English – Difference in pronunciation of “a team” and “A team”


I noticed that I pronounce the A differently based on the intended meaning:

I belong to the A-team. (like ey in they)


I belong to a team. (like a in apple)

Are the pronunciations supposed to be different or is it an artifact of how I have learned to pronounce the alphabet and the article?

Best Answer

In this case, when the vowel a is pronounced long and capitalized, A is an ordinal. The A Team is superior to the B Team. (you rarely hear about the C or later teams.)

A-team: A group of elite soldiers or the top advisers or workers in an organization.

Oxford Dictionaries Online

B-team is usually derogatory

Derived from high school varsity and junior varsity sports, where the "B Team" is made up of the stragglers and uncoordinated losers. Used in a situation in which someone drops, breaks, messes up, stutters during an insult, or just acts a fool.

Urban Dictionary

There was a television show in the US for several years called The A-Team. They were a group of very effective, but unconventional heroes who solved intractable problems (usually with both force and guile). Wikipedia

Although many dictionaries offer a long a pronunciation for the indefinite article, in common speech it is almost always pronounced short, as a schwa.

Oxford Dictionaries Online