You Don’t Know the Half of It

The word half can sometimes cause half a mess. Here are some basic rules to keep in mind with the word half.

  • Omit the preposition of when you can; it’s often unnecessary: “Nearly half the people in this town saw the murder on TV.”
  • When the noun or pronoun following half is singular, you should use “half of it is . . .” For example: “Half of my sandwich is soggy.” But if the noun or pronoun is plural, make half a plural noun: “Half of my French fries are soggy too” (If you’re British, this goes for chips as well!)
  • It’s perfectly fine to stick the little a in a phrase like “I brought you half a dozen roses.” You can leave it out if you like, but avoid doubling up on that little letter by saying “I brought you a half a dozen ” Or say “a half-dozen roses” if you prefer the hyphen (phrasal adjective).
  • And last but not least: it’s redundant to say two halves. Halves means two parts. So just say “I cut the apple into halves.” Or “two pieces” if they’re not fairly equal. Although I know your half is always bigger than mine.

I hope this exploration of the word half was at least half as much fun for you as it was for me.

2 Responses to “You Don’t Know the Half of It”

  1. Anneli September 25, 2015 at 11:45 am #

    I really look forward to your little tidbits of writing knowledge.They’re not half bad. (Not an expression I’d ever use, but I was desperate to use “half.”)

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