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Hale, Hardy, and Hearty

If you’re hale, you’re well.  And some people like to use the expression “hale and hearty.” That sounds right, doesn’t it? Maybe they are thinking it means they have a healthy heart, but the word hearty is incorrect.

When we talk about someone being bold, vigorous, or robust, we say they are hardy. That’s quite a bit different from hearty, which means warm and enthusiastic.

  • He gave me a hearty greeting when I arrived.
  • She’s a hearty gal—strong and healthy.

Hearty can also mean nourishing and satisfying, when talking about food or appetite: Continue Reading…

Don’t Get Hung Up on Hang

It’s fine if you’ve hung a picture or a sweater on a hook. But if you sent a man to the gallows, that person wasn’t hung. He was hanged.

You can have a hung jury: a jury unable to reach a verdict. They are “hung up” on a decision.

You hang up on someone, and you can get hung up on a project.

But criminals found guilty of capital offenses are hanged (in some places in the world). We all know what that entails. Yet even though we say “his wife hanged herself,” not every instance of being suspended in air with a rope around the neck is a “hanging.” Continue Reading…

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.

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